Written by 6:00 am Vinyl, Audiophile, Audiophile Music, Audiophile News

Why Do I Prefer Discovering Vintage Artists Like Lee Moses At Record Stores?

Mark Smotroff likes getting turned on to music in person…

I’ll tell you what folks:  I love going to music stores, places where I get to interact with real people in the flesh, in real time and where I get exchange real information in a meaningful way.  The experience can be akin to capturing lighting in a bottle, personal sea-change moments which spur impulse purchases based on a song being played or trusted friend telling me: “hey, this is good!” 

This is something that the online world can only begin to approximate, purchases usually triggered mostly by pricing, immediacy of availability and occasionally the impact of a review by someone like yours truly! 

But seriously, if I sound like a broken record about this record store thing, I apologize but I have been turned onto so much good music at music stores and in other public listening venues that I find it more valuable than radio or streaming. Shazam is a favorite App I keep at the ready on my iPhone for me for this reason.

Case in point, last week I was looking through the bins at Tunnel Records here in San Francisco and noticed an album called Time And Place displayed on the wall. It looked really interesting, made by a fellow named Lee Moses whose name sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it. So, I inquired with the owner of the shop, Ben. His eyes lit up!

Apparently this very rare 1971 recording had been scouted out and scoured by wise DJs and remix artists for years (check whosampled to backwards engineer this). Accordingly, finding original copies of this album is next to impossible and if you do find one online it’s typically very expensive. There are at time of this writing three VG condition copies on Discogs which begin at $600 and go up to over $1000 (yikes!).

So the reissue of Time And Place appeared too enticing to leave behind and even with the promise of fancy multi-colored vinyl I decided to give it a shot. Apparently it was first issued in 2016 and there have been numerous color variants issued over the past several years.  

I was pleased to find out when I happened to post about this album on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram that a friend of mine actually produced this re-issue! Pat Thomas, a musician, producer, writer and all around great guy has worked on many other archival releases for a variety of labels (this one is issued through Light In The Attic). I reached out to Pat and while its not surprising that the original tapes are long lost, it turns out that this new edition was likely crafted from best available sources (including possibly a clean copy of the original LP and even a CD). 

Don’t get too freaked out audiophiles, as it sounds remarkably good especially given that this was an indie release from 1971 to begin with and has its own raw vibe going on. The music sounds generally very clean with distinct stereo separation and a surprisingly warm and round mid range.  You might hear some distortion here and there but that may well be the sound of an oversaturated original tape, a technique that is sometimes actually employed for effect. It sounds perfectly wonderful, with that sort of misty murkiness one might expect for an independent release, probably done in a small studio back in the day on a non-existent budget.

That said, kudos to the mastering engineers on Time And Place for ensuring that the sound of the final reissued album is consistent from track to track. 

Overall this album sounds great and the pressing sounds remarkably good even though it’s on frequently-problematic splatter colored vinyl. The standard weight record is quiet and it is well centered. 

Musically, Time And Place finds the guitarist/singer working his way through deep jams with a hint of soulful funk and a healthy dose of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll.  Vocally, his style falls somewhere between Otis Redding, Janis Joplin and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. So if you like that sort of super-emotive, howl-at-the-moon vocal style, you may find this album totally in your wheelhouse.  

I love it. 

Moses does a great job owning the cover tunes he tackles. His slow burn version of “California Dreaming” is super passionate with a full horn section driving the ascending vibe. His slightly funky take on “Hey Joe” works just great even in the face of by-then-iconic versions by the likes of Jimi Hendrix.

Speaking of Hendrix, apparently Moses jammed with him in his early pre-fame days! He also reportedly played shows opening for Gladys Knight and the Pips and shared stages successfully with no less than James Brown.

Time And Place is not without its sense of heartbreak in a song like “Got That Will” which explores the artist’s anticipation for a successful future and making it big like some of his heroes whom he name checks. Sadly, Moses never got even close to the kind of success his heroes and peers like Sly Stone, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, The Allman Brothers Band and Jimi Hendrix. 

Moses only made this one album, preceded by a handful of singles in the 1960s. 

Fortunately, his music lives on so if you like your soulful funk flavored rock sounds coming at you deep and wide, and you should pick up this album by Lee Moses. 

Time And Place is a keeper!

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