The Lost American Songwriter – Tom Pacheco

Back in the olden days before Camden Town turned into a cheap seaside and etsy version of itself..before coffee shops and beardy tattoo parlours there was an excellent record shop at 281 Camden High Street called Rhythm Records just before the canal on the right hand side headed towards Kentish Town.

I know because I used to spend my 1980s wages in there on a regular basis as at that time it was the best shop after Rock On for new American folk, country and blues lps. Indeed I preferred the basement there as I remember distinctly their wall displays of Tom Russell, Rosanne Cash, Terry Clarke, Christy Moore etc etc and lps like this.

The first Tom Pacheco Lp was on a fledgling Round Tower label out of Dublin financed by Clive Hudson of CBS apparently and he released ‘Eagle in The Rain’ recorded in Dublin and with a great Irish musical line-up which included Arty McGlynn and even included Uillean Pipes such was the Irish feel to it. At this period I was fast realising my ambition to be the UK Nick Cave was falling on deaf ears and I had discovered Texas Songwriters through Townes Van Zandt. Reading Folk Roots and Arthur Wood’s articles in Country Music People I avidly sought out any new post Dylan guy who could pen a literate toon.

Amongst these Mr Tom Pacheco stood out. Little did I know then that this dude had been there all the time actually releasing a self-penned ‘New Dylan’ Lp when just 19 years old. This is that LP…

Tom Pacheco – Turn Away Fom the Storm (1965)

So some 25 years later our Dylanite turns up in Dublin and produces a corker of a singer-songwriter LP the tunes of which I still know even though I not heard in many a year. Opener Roberta and Ramona is a almost talking blues with Springsteen overtones but is pure Pacheco. The sleeve art is out of Gram and Emmylou picture book and the overall tone is very left-wing almost Green Party before it existed fully. Pacheco’s father was a jazz musician and his brother played in the legendary gararge rock band The Remains. He was well-versed in rock mythology and also knew his post Guthrie dustbowl lineage. I think this LP appeared alongside Peter Rowan’s Dustbowl Children, Dave Alvin solo works and Butch Hancock’s Demon retrospective. He belonged in such company and of course Tom Russell and Barrence Whitfield were on the newly re-named Round Tower records.

Tom Pacheco – Eagle in The Rain (1989)

Now I confess I know I saw all of the above play but I cannot be sure if I ever saw Tom play which surprising. My feeling is I missed out. I left London in 1989 taking this LP with me and only returned in 1991 at which point I had deluded myself enough that I was Townes Van Zandt that I sent a tape to Round Tower after meeting the woman in charge in London at a Tom Russell gig.
She was talking to the legendary John Tobler who had already been a victim of my lo-fi tape extravanganza ‘Black River’. He said with a voice like mine I should write..wise words..

Shaun Belcher – Black River (1991)

Tom Pacheco was in that mix of influences by then and I guess I still have a craving to sound like a cool stateside songwriter but things do fade in time.

Now I really do write about it.

The lady at Round Tower kindly replied to my tape with a polite close but no cigar message and a pack of Round Tower cds which included Tom Russell and Barrence Whitfield and I believe the first of these cds Sunflowers which I have treasured ever since.

Years later in Oxford I met up with my friend Terry Clarke whose LP I had also seen in Rhythm Records and it all connected to Flyinshoes Webzine. There I interviewed a whole raft of similarly obscure songwriters from the states…

The Lost American Songwriter Review is what it should have been called.

So here I am 30 years later suddenly surprised by a whole set of Tom Pacheco cds in a charity shop some signed to Andy who I believe was a local Americana fan who passed away in last few years.
Tom P probably played the Maze at some point for my buddies at Cosmic American but I managed to miss him….I saw just about everybody else.

Maybe I should start a new webzine called The Lost American Songwriter Review because so many great talents like Tom have slipped from view. They were never under the radar let alone on it. People like James Talley and Tom Ovans who continued the Guthrie/Dylan tradition of protest onwards into the 70s and beyond.

That idea is for another day..for now although thirty years late..I have a whole lot of Tom Pacheco to catch up on. Cheers Tom and wherever you are I wish you sláinte….And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead” a true Outsider..

For further Tom music try this for starters…what a cover..

Or visit his Adobe..https://www.tompacheco.com/

Finally Tom in his prime and that gig I seem to have missed!

Oh and Round Tower lable is a treat it started in 1987 and ended in 2000 but put out a lot of excellent recordings.

https://www.discogs.com/label/224019-Round-Tower-Music

Rare Car Boot Violinists – Kogan and Oistrakh

One of the joys of car-booting is you never know what you might turn up. The charity shops have long since armed themselves with discogs and ebay, so much so that some even put comments on their LPs quoting the latest price and matrix number straight off the net.

Car boots have slightly more freedom but even there the chances of coming across mint copies is slight these days. I started to buy classical lps out of interest and a fascination with the particularities of label variations and hard to find guides for the genre. I have come across a couple of ‘holy grails’ but not quite as holy as required for the top-end collector….usually in the far-east these days.

Last year I found a couple of collector pieces by Leonid Kogan and David Oistrakh but neither was mint enought to sell. Still just the fact that they appeared gave some hope ( who knows how long until car boots are common again) for future trawls.

The best find was this album by David Oistrakh on Columbia. Before even playing it I had worked out it was not the top dollar item which was the first edition 1960 Columbia blue label as above. Currently going for a £1000 dollars plus if mint. Mine was the less sought after Red semi circular label edition from 1965 as below. That in mint condition has gone for £100 online but here the rub.

It looked pretty good before cleaning and placing on turntable but within a few grooves the dread click of a probable needle drop could be heard. I tried to clean it away but to no avail. Shame as it a very good record and as with all Columbia and Decca sixties vinyl it otherwise perfect and very low background sound. But a pop is a pop to a collector in South Korea so my car boot payday was over……better luck next time….

About a month later I again found a rare record but thsi time I bought it knowing it not in good enough nick but still a quid fine for a rarity.

This time it was a Leonid Kogan LP. Another name to search for in classical…for some reason it violinists which fetch highest prices. Maybe they simply did not press as many copies as major orchestral works so that why rarer.

The LP I found was Kogan’s Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. Again a sought after LP in mint condition (£180 +) and this time it had a Columbia dark blue label.

Mine showed wear and tear even at car boot and sure enough when got home although playable not a selling item at all.

So potential profit £1200..actual profit zero but that not the point. I now listening to a very good Lp for a pound and learnign not just about classical music but rare records and it sounds great.

Shame about the clicks but there you go…happy hunting folks.

The Go-Betweens – a life-time commitment

The Go-Betweeens Uk 12″ collection and a bit of my cat Merle’s tail…

I recently met a neighbour who unbeknown to me shared a life-long passion for the Australian group The Go-Betweens. He introduced me to a facebook group called Right Here: The Go-Betweens Appreciation Society and I been posting all day.

Above the UK catalogue on vinyl as purchased throughout the 1980s. I knew of The Go-Betweens from early on having collected Postcard Records like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera and the first Go-Betweens single in the UK. Then my friend Pete Astor through his bands The Loft and The Weather Prophets got to know and play alongside them. I loved Cattle and Cane and started to collect everything they did. That collection has come through two relationships and four cities so at least some things stay constant. Loving The Go-Betweens going by the Facebook comments is a lifetime commitment….and despite ‘Part Company’ there will be no divorce. We been together nearly 40 years already 🙂

UK 7″ collection 1980 -1990

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2238310669/

Sinatra Capitol LPs – the Grey Label search

Original Capitol grey label first pressings of Sinatra in MONO

The Sinatra Obsession

The Fascination become an obsession. Through reading avidly on the Steve Hoffman forums ( he remasters for Capitol) where such matters are discussed in immense detail I have come to an understanding of the following…..

The best MONO pressings of Sinatra’s fifties Capitol recordings are those issued on the grey labels as above. Finding mint copies of these items is almost impossible as the ceramic cartridges of players back in the day wore the vinyl to shreds..mostly..but occasionally I come across them and see if I got lucky. Yesterday I found three Sinatras on grey and a lovely Judy Garland Lp ‘Alone’ (see below) . The Garland has obvious wear and all the Sinatras are not pristine although they are all playable. I also have later stereo versions of Come Fly With me (1962 Alan Dell stereo RP 1984 ) and Songs for Young Lovers ( Capitol Orange label 1970s RP again stereo).

Sinatra recording Only The Lonely – Note tall stand hard right is one of the two tall stereo mics the rest of mics are MONO ones close ups for the instruments. The feeds went to two separate control rooms to tape.

I did a brief comparison playing the MONO on a mono deck and stereo on stereo and sure enough all the comments true. Ignoring a good deal of wear surface noise it was obvious that the recordings indeed of the same performance but from different mic and tapes as it was the practice with these early stereo experiments to mic stereo high in the gods on booms right/left and close mic drums etc with more mics for mono mix. On Come Fly With Me the difference striking with real kick bass to the drums that simply nothere on the ‘brighter’ stereo recording.

The definitive descriptions of these events are here along with hand drawn descriptions of the microphone placements.

http://www.11fifty.com/Site_108/Welcome_Sinatra_Cole.html

Also there is a book about his recording sessions here:


https://issuu.com/cmjw24/docs/charles_l._granata_-_sessions_with_

Three slightly worn Sinatra Greys.

So having fallen into the rabbit hole of detailed recording techniques what next….for now I have an awful lot of Sinatra to get through….then Nat King Cole….

Differences…the Mono -Stereo illustration change…

Frank looks left then….
Frank looks right…

Frank also lost a track as the Kipling family ( the writer not cakes!) objected to his setting of the Road to Mandalay on Come Fly With me so it was substituted in the UK and did not reappear (it was substituted with a track from LP above) until 1984 Dell reissue.

Open Country – The crazy CBS/Sunday Times triple LP sampler 1972

 

I picked up this insane triple album in Nottingham for a pound…i.e. 33 1/3p per disc 🙂 The image is a woman with plastic animals all over…mad but reminds me of the later Loose early compilation below:-)

It is a Sunday Times offer from 1972 in collaboration with CBS so content and vinyl quality very good.

It all CBS related acts so you get The Byrds, Johnny Cash, Carter Family etc etc.

Amazing selection which fully listed on the discogs page.

https://www.discogs.com/Various-Open-Country/release/5140579

I paid the going rate it seems £1.99 so not a collector’s item but nice none the less.

Pete Pawsey and Burnt Paw – JamCafe Nottingham 28th December 2017

I have not written a review in many years.

In fact the last attempt was the first blog post on this website back in October 2015 when I saw Ron Sexsmith play a lovely solo set at the Glee Club Nottingham.

Last Thursday an old music journalism friend Pete Pawsey was over from North Carolina and supported by Burnt Paw (Andrew Green) played a lovely set of traditional folk and blues material.

I celebrated this by getting my old reviews notebook out (see images below) this pretty much ended in 2004 when I passed Flyinshoes Review on to Rob Ellen and I pleased to say it still going strong 😉

http://flyinshoes.ning.com

This the Burnt Paw/ Pete Pawsey entry including Burnt Paw drawing which he gives out to audience at his gigs..

 

both performances were excellent and I have a video of Pete doing stirling renditions of Randy Newman’s ‘Birmingham’ and his own ‘Yesterday’s Clothes’ which I hope to post in due course with his permission.

Listen to more Burnt Paw here https://burntpaw.bandcamp.com/

His songs were arcane americana themed with a real feel for Jansch/Renbourn/Davey and lashings of Fahey but most of all he reminded me of a similar wandering spirit Michael Chapman.

Pete Pawsey and Radar’s Clowns of Sedation here  https://www.reverbnation.com/radarsclownsofsedation   

Pete played some lovely Randy Newman and Tom Waits/Nick Cave covers interspersed with some well written own tunes especially ‘Yesterday’s Clothes’.

A few hours of backwoods mysticism in a chilly and almost dead post-Christmas Nottingham was a joy to witness.

Meanwhile here photos from the gig.

Joe South – Midnight Rainbows

Bargain of the year! This almost mint copy of Joe South’s second to last album from 1975 cost me 50p.

I have seen cover many times over the years but never investigated further.

Once I put it on the deck I realised it a keeper. There a very full and beautifully written eulogy to the man here:

http://deeprootsmag.org/2012/09/11/for-all-he-gave-and-for-giving-his-all/ 

This says all you need to know about his career going back to the late 1950s. I never knew he played bass on Blonde on Blonde nor that he was such a rated guitarist and was experimenting with guitar techniques and hacks way back. A new hero.

The album is astonishing and indeed Nillson and Beatlesque in its depth and variety. He had spent four years ‘missing’ following the suicide of his brother and this album was some kind of a comeback. From the sitar playing on the famous Games People Play he had been an innovator but I still unprepared for just how good this LP is.

It made me pull out a See for Miles reissue of his first album Introspect. I also found a double CD rip of the two later albums Games People Play and Joe South. All highly recommended..Southern Roots at its best.

Here the man himself on youtube in 1969 TV appearance..

 

DISCOGS PAGE : https://www.discogs.com/artist/325103-Joe-South

White Music – January 1978 – XTC in the shires..


White or Red Stripes? The out-takes from cover photo session for Virgin first album.
You can see the cans of lager in these other photos. The record company airbrushed out on the actual cover below!

January 28th 1978 I am 19 years old and on my one year foundation course at Oxford Polytechnic just as PUNK was filtering into the shires….we were a year behind London 🙂 I remember watching in awe the previous autumn as a guy on the course purchased the Buzzcocks first album complete with designer silver grey plastic bag and showed it off.

I had a birthday in January 1978 and as money was so tight that was my first opportunity to buy a punk album. I only had three options in my little hometown of Didcot, Oxfordshire.

The Lays Electrical shop where I had bought my glam rock 7 inches off the pegboard walls or W H Smith which was vinyl central then or Woolworths.

It turned out Woolies was more PUNK….

I remember to this day looking through the rack and seeing three or four options..The Damned, XTC, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and the red compilation of ‘New Wave’. I plumped for the Iggy Pop album for some reason and took it home over-excited. This ended as I put it on the tiny dansette hidden in my parent’s old sideboard….it was warped so badly it didn’t play.

So I took it back and had only two choices…the red compilation or this weird album by XTC called White Music…it looked punky and I had no idea they were down the road in Swindon.

White Music it was…

 

I now listening to a digital version for first time in years..was way ahead of me then and still sounds exciting now. Not a bad choice and somehow over the years I lost my original copy…..will keep a look out for a replacement on vinyl for old times sake.

Meanwhile here what I listening to in a sideboard on a mono dansette in January 1978 🙂

A dub version of All along the watchtower….FFS 🙂

Swindon Boys and recorded at the Manor Oxford…..local post modernism 🙂

Did it influence my art not much…but it was the soundtrack:-)

More INFO: http://chalkhills.org/reelbyreal/a_WhiteMusic.html 

Chuck Berry re-takes on Mercury 1966

 

If you see this mid-price compilation from Spain from 1967 grab it as it is a re-badging of the Mercury Studios 1966 re-takes session Berry did when he swapped labels moving from Chess to Mercury (Fontana over here).

Original Mercury album cover from states

The session involved :

  • Chuck Berry – guitar, vocals
  • Ebby Hardy – drums
  • Johnnie Johnson – piano, electric piano
  • Quincy Macon – rhythm guitar
  • Eugene Washington – drums

They hit the hits at quite a lick and all in all it a feisty reinterpretation of the Chess standards with one new track Club Nitty Gritty that came out as the first mercury single and hence very rare.

 

More info on the Mercury Releases here : http://www.crlf.de/ChuckBerry/mercury.html

My particular favourite is the take on Roll Over Beethoven which almost punk like in its speed and intensity. The whole session sounds one-take live throughout. Leadbitter and Slaven’s Blues Records 1943-1970 states it recorded Clayton Mo, Oct/Nov 1966.

 

Full track listing:

Side one

  1. “Sweet Little Sixteen” (2:32)
  2. “Memphis” (2:07)
  3. “School Days (Ring Ring Goes the Bell)” (2:35)
  4. “Maybellene” (2:35)
  5. “Back in the U.S.A.” (2:27)

Side two

  1. “Johnny B. Goode” (2:45)
  2. “Rock and Roll Music” (2:33)
  3. “Roll Over Beethoven” (2:02)
  4. “Thirty Days” (2:10)
  5. “Carol” (2:24)
  6. “Club Nitty Gritty” (2:18)

Ramblin Jack Elliott and Trailer Star

I always had a soft spot for Ramblin Jack Elliott (born Elliot Adnopoz in Brooklyn yes the original Jewish Beat Cowboy before Zimmerman 🙂 ) not only because of the obvious Dylan connection but because the early Topic LPs are beautifully designed especially the drawn ones which I copied for Trailer Star’s fake album Suit of Nettles. Spot the influence…

The artist on these Topic albums (I also have a beautiful Sarah Ogun Gunning album of the  same period) was probably the same artist but I cannot trace who it is at all.

The Elliotts have what appears to be a signature but Bosard C my best guess comes up with nothing ..

This my collection so far as Ramblin Jack has 50 releases a way to go…

In situ Lincoln 2008..note the influences..