It’s the time of year for saving money!
As a follow on to my article on tasty 10-inch records several weeks ago, thought I’d write up some bits on various seven-inch singles — which generally spin at 45 revolutions per minute, thus some of us old folks call ’em 45s — which you might enjoy spinning in your leisure hours. Or, you might want to pick some of them up as gifts for family and friends.
KINKS! On Record Store Day this year, BMG and its Sanctuary Records brand re-issued another series of rare seven-inch EPs which previously had only been available in England and Europe. Each contains four songs from the latter 60s / early 70s era of the band, when they — like many of the bands of the period — were stretching out in the studio and expanding their writing styles. All of the EPs were made in France, oddly enough, and feature period near-accurate labels that mimic the look and feel of the old Pye Records design of the time.
The Kinks features four songs from the great 1967 release Something Else and has been out of print ever since. All four songs are great here, especially the punchy sounding rockers “David Watts” and “Situation Vacant.” This may be the best sounding EP of the bunch, in sparkly monaural sound.
Till Death Do Us Part is an odd one in the group as it is technically a brand new EP created to celebrate the band’s 50th Anniversary, but features material from the landmark Village Green Preservation Society album. “Do You Remember Walter?” is one of my all time favorite Kinks songs and sounds like it is in Mono here. “People Take Pictures Of Each Other” is a jolly jaunty tune from the album as well. “This is Where I Belong” was originally supposed to be on the Face to Face album (from 1965) but eventually got released as the B-side to “Mr. Pleasant.” The title track appeared briefly on the short lived 1973 compilation The Great Lost Kinks Album and was originally used in a BBC TV show of the same name which (if I’m not mistaken) was something of an inspiration for Norman Lear’s groundbreaking US TV show, All In The Family.
The Gods Children EP was issued in England in 1971, all four songs coming from the obscure soundtrack to the equally obscure film Percy (the soundtrack album never came out in the US). The title track is a lovely song that fits snugly between best of the Kinks’ music from this period on albums such as Lola Vs. Powerman and Muswell Hillbillies. This EP is unusual in that it spins at 33 1/3 RPM. It also sounds the least clear of the batch if singles. but the music is beautiful with its rich string sections on tracks like “Moments” and “The Way Love Used To Be.” “Dreams” is a great tune as well with its rollicking extended outro. I do wish it was spinning at 45 RPM as it might sound better, but … well… it is what it is and that is how the release was issued back in the day. Its still a good sampler preview for the album, so if you like this EP, you may well enjoy the actual Percy soundtrack album.
ZAPPA! I almost didn’t buy this single. But one of my music collecting buddies was in line early at Amoeba and grabbed a copy for me as it was selling out quickly by the time I got into the store (Thanks Shawn!). So, I decided to spring for it. It does have a cool cover with its alternate color design based on The Mothers of Invention’s landmark 1965 debut album Freak Out! Pressed on nicely centered and quiet neon pink vinyl on Zappa’s Barking Pumpkin label, it may not be period-accurate but it is pretty cool nonetheless. And it sounds really good hearing this great little pop song “How Could I Be Such A Fool?” spinning at 45 RPM, replete with its big orchestral backing, in living monaural sound.
DRESSY BESSY! Ok, so this was one of those records that (for me at least) came out of nowhere during Record Store Day in 2015. My music buddy Frank told me to grab it while we were shopping at Amoeba Records that year as it has Peter Buck of REM on one song and the band — which hails from Denver, Colorado — covers a George Harrison tune on the flipside. It was on the respected indie label Yep Roc Records, so I figured I’d give it a shot even though it was a little pricey ($10 for two songs from a band I didn’t know at all). But, hey, I like supporting independent artists. Of course, me being me, the Dressy Bessy single sat in my “to play” bin for a year until just as I was writing this review. I just cracked it open and gave it a couple spins. While its nothing groundbreaking, the music IS fun and it comes on pretty sky blue vinyl. Its kinda cool to hear a slightly aggressive near power-pop take on Harrison’s classic from the All Things Must Pass album “What Is Life?” “Lady Liberty” is a great kick off track from the band’s latest album which came out in 2016 (called Kingsized). This is fun indie rock in the classic drums-bass-and-guitars mode. If you liked The Breeders or Sleater Kinney, you might like this record. I know I’m going to check out some of their other stuff soon.
What’s not to like, right? And, did I mention before that these records are fun?
That’s what all this record collecting stuff is all about, kids!