Apropos of nothing

prague

Here is a track from an album made in New York in 1958. The record is a piece of anti-Soviet propaganda called, as you see, ‘Dreams of Golden Prague’ and its sleevenotes bemoan the influence of communism on Bohemia and suggest that the terror imposed there is merely a preliminary to a take over of the ‘Free World’. The rant on the back cover occupies the space where one would normally expect to find performer credits so I don’t know who is playing. The front cover meanwhile shows Golden Prague through a rose-tinted glass. I took the liberty of ‘improving’ this track which I believe is called ‘Vērím-tango’. (Those accents are wrong). I’m interested in how a simple shift of the sound can change the nature of a song….in this case adding echo has, I think, brought a much needed sense of melancholy to bear on the tune and its delivery.

An Enigma

Setting aside whether I should have parted with £1.49 for this (especially as at some previous time it had been sold for 19p)…I wonder what this object is about. Who was responsible for it and why? Was it on the way to becoming something other than useless when the process was interrupted? And w45001hy was B. A. Robertson anyway?

It’s all about the mix

mix001This is the 100th post on this blog…I had meant to do something clever like choose my favourite 3 LP box set (3 x 33 and one third…geddit?)..it was going to be either Yessongs or Escalator Over the Hill (no it wasn’t). But I was never going to get round to that and, in the meantime, I found a black bin bag containing around 130 CDs on Kingsland Road this week. Some were unplayable, there were a few free films from newspapers and some old software. There was one CD full of someone’s holiday pictures. The rest were mostly singles, either ‘Landfill Indie’ or the kind of R&B that does little for me. Still I retrieved 27 from the pile..the rest have already gone to Oxfam. Before I did this I recorded the shortest track from each CD for the purposes of experimentation…more of this at some future date maybe. Here is the first experiment/unholy racket…ten tracks that ended up at the beginning of the list played simultaneously and mixed down…it ends well I think.

Mouvement Perpetuel

IMG_5677

This is one of two private recordings I bought recently in a St Andrews charity shop. The other was recorded at Levy’s Sound Studios, Bond Street, London W1 sometime in 1956. This one has no date though maybe the code S.V.12/37. is an indication. I suppose the date of 1937 would fit with the design of the label but I don’t know anything about the history of this kind of recording and I can’t find out anything about Sona-Vox Studios. The piece of music, as you see from the label, is Poulenc’s Mouvement Perpetuel (actually the first of three movements) performed by Miss M. McKendrick.This is the recording of Miss McKendrick playing the piano in a room that no longer exists at 186 St Vincents Street, Glasgow.

The two tracks on this side are separated by a silent locked groove.IMG_5679

 

This music was used by Alfred Hitchcock in his 1948 film ‘Rope’. In this section of the film Farley Granger plays fragments of the piece (in a room that never really existed) while he is being quizzed by James Stewart.rope

 

 

 

The Look of Love

This Bacharach and David song seems to have followed me across three continents this summer.

  1. Manchester. Elisabeth Fraser performs it a cappella at ‘Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis’…possibly the best part of the evening. The Youtube clips of this don’t do the performance justice so I won’t provide a link.
  2. In Brazil at Inhotim in an installation by Valeska Soares called ‘Tonight’ in her pavilion ‘Folly’. Dusty Springfield singing a gently remixed version (uncredited) over a film of ghost ballroom dancers projected into an octagonal mirrored room. While there some young Brazilian couples come in and dance shyly for a few minutes…first the women (their handbags on the floor) and then, more tentatively, two of the men. soareshttp://valeskasoares.net/works/Video/Tonight/
  3. In the breakfast room of FX Hotel in Taipei City. The same selection of lounge music is played every morning during my stay and so every morning I hear this bland instrumental behind the Mandarin conversation and crockery sounds.
  4.    dw                                                                                                   The day after I arrive back from Taiwan I pull out at random ‘Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Motion Picture Hits’ and ‘The Look of Love’ is the first track. Dusty’s version is the original and is definitive (it was used in the 1967 wayward Bond film ‘Casino Royale’) but I think that Dionne Warwick’s version is a close run second place. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AImXW5wgfQI
  5. The next day I am listening to a CD that I bought in Oxfam just before leaving for Taiwan: ‘The Wild Bunch; Story of a Sound System, Mixed by DJ Milo’. The final track is a version credited to the Wild Bunch but without a credit for the singer (Shara Nelson?)…there is some scratching and some samples (of Dionne Warwick’s version?)…the melody breaks up over the deconstructed beats of the turntables and then fades out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sHcTS9k21E. So I guess I have come full circle.