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Best of Vinyl 2023 - Vinyl Stories

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 19 / 1 / 2024



Best of Vinyl 2023 - Vinyl Stories

intro

Rounding up what Pennyblack contributors have been spinning on the turntable this year, Dave Goodwin brings us his own list and commentary on a eclectic selection of vinyl purchases

Well, it’s that time again. It’s the time of year when all of the vinyl nuts at Pennyblack look back over the year and reminisce over the lovely discs we’ve bought and try to work out which ones we actually told the Missus about! Before I carry on, you might as well know that I dream about records. I also daydream about records. I can smell records before I go into the record shop. If I could, my favourite food would be a vinyl sandwich. I know that would be impossible but you know what I mean. I started buying records when I was very small and I’m still buying them now. I also like other people’s records and this is where Vinyl Stories originated from. So, if you feel like confessing to your latest indulgence or even a few of your prized possessions drop me a line? When I started to compile this years Christmas Vinyl Stories I though 2023 would be quite easy because I haven’t actually been that busy on the buying front. When it dawned on me I had reached the tenth or fifteenth single on my list I realised that I had been slightly wrong. I used to DJ out a lot and ran my own soul night in the local town. To keep up with the in demand sounds I was buying all sorts of Northern and 60’s R&B. We had to shut the soul night down due to noise pollution. Someone complained about the level of noise and they lived smack bang across the car park from the pub. There were ten houses in a row and the one that complained lived in furthest house away. It prompted me to wonder “Why buy a house across the way from a busy pub if you want piece and quiet 24/7?” Anyway, when I packed my decks away I realised I had bought a lot of stuff I didn’t actually like myself and bought it just for the dancefloor. So I started selling a lot of my vinyl and replacing it with sounds I did like which was ultimately all kinds of black music. Whether it be Funk, Ska, Northern Soul, Doo-Wop, absolutely anything that if it sounded good it went in my box. I have, as it turns out, been buying some good Northern Soul though amongst all of this, which, if you are not aware, can be quite costly. I buy US originals unless the pressing is beyond my monetary allowance in which case there are usually some good quality reissues out there. The majority of my collection is originals though. I suppose you could call me a bit of a vinyl nutcase. My wife thinks I have ‘special interests’. With this I think she means I’m on the spectrum as I will sit for hours marvelling at my acquisitions. As it turns out I know a few more people like me. People who just cant stop buying the sounds they love on the format they love. There is, as is usual in the end-of-year edition of Vinyl Stories, a few like minded people here at Pennyblack Music. Every Christmas I ask if anyone has been as naughty as me in the record stakes and every year the answer is the same. Absolutely! I’m going to start with our editor John’s selection. Now, if I know anyone that knows music, this guy knows his shit. So, I’m just going to let John tell you all what hes been buying this year and I’ll see you in a bit. John Clarkson Bathers: Sirenesque (Last Night From Glasgow) To come back with a new album of material after a twenty-four year gap, especially when you have such a perfect back catalogue as Chris Thomson and The Bathers, is a very brave thing to do. Fortunately ‘Sirenesque’ has worked out and is slightly more orchestral than its predecessors. The general view of fans and critics is that it as fine a record and perhaps even a better one than their other albums. The Bathers have always been one of my favourite groups since I first discovered them at the start of their career in 1987. I bought ‘Sirenesque’ on both blue and white vinyl as well as CD. I am just glad that they are back really. The Delines: The Night Always Comes (Décor Records) Pennyblack gave songwriter Willy Vlautin his first European interview way back in 2002. Since then he has gone on from strength to strength with his bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines, and also as an acclaimed novelist. I tend to be a bit cynical about Record Store Day, feeling that it is a massive cash-in exercise done with very little real emotion for the records or artists involved, but this album limited to 1,000 copies and the soundtrack to Willy’s latest novel, I was very keen to own. The cover, a photograph of a car beside an empty street and a train on a railway line above it, is stunning. Only two of its ten tracks feature their lead singer Amy Boone, and the rest of it is instrumental. It shows off what a great band they are musically and in particular on this record keyboardist / trumpeter Cory Gray. Brenda: Brenda (Last Night From Glasgow) I was so enamoured with the Last Night From Glasgow label that I pay £75 per year for an annual membership. This has proved excellent value for money, as members get six vinyl LPs of their choice from their catalogue, as well as 40% off anything else from their listings. The albums are always worth hearing, but the pick of the bunch for me is the debut album by Brenda. An offbeat, early 80’s all-female electronica trio from Glasgow I would never have heard of them if it wasn’t for the label. Oldfield Youth Trio: The Hanworth Are Coming (Tiny Global) I ordered two copies of this album by mistake and am still not really sure how. I have long been a fan of their frontman Simon Rivers’ other work with his previous bands The Bitter Springs and Last Party and think that he is of Britain’s most overlooked songwriters. This first album from Simon’s latest band, five years in the making and released since they made their central London debut at our Twentieth Anniversary gig, is one of his best yet in his forty year long career. Fields of the Nephilim: Dawnrazor (Situation Two) My brother and I went to see The Fields of the Nephilim last December, and two days later he went down with Covid. I bought this 1987 debut album on vinyl for £8 after seeing it in the window of my local Oxfam shop, and two days later I went down with Covid. I am not particularly superstitious but have been reluctant to play it ever since! I still love them though, and think that they are one of the great Goth groups. Dave Goodwin: Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, I think you will agree not only is John a certified vinyl nut but he does also know his shit! Mr. Clarkson has spurred me on to explore Last Night from Glasgow that’s for sure. I have known John for some time now and his enthusiasm is plain to see. I myself had a brief encounter with Fields of Nephilim live and I thought they were pretty good. It just goes to show how naughty you people can be – Mr Clarkson has pointed me in another direction exploring that band again now. If my memory serves me right, one of the other vinyl heads of the magazine was Eoghan Lyng who produced a sizeable list of his black wax purchases in 2022. I decided to ask him again this year and found he had not been so prolific, he admits he only had one vinyl job to do this year… Eoghan Lyng: I only had to get one record and there were no consequences to it, in that the album itself is called ‘Consequences’. Yes, I decided to purchase the Godley & Creme frenzy / folly recorded with comedian Peter Cook who supplies spoken word passages. While Cook’s contributions do it few favours, the musicianship is simply spectacular. Lol Crème’s guitar really shines from the vinyl, and I love the Noo Yoik accent he puts on during some of the tracks. Drummer Kevin Godley remains one of the best singers of his generation, and his vocals on ‘Sailor’ have genuine pathos. The album is enjoying something of a renaissance, and although it doesn’t rank with their best work as part of 10cc, I can't help but be wowed by the ambition of the triple album, all the gizmos and disembodied yelps of it. Dave Goodwin: This is what I love about doing this column I can get a whole list of stuff folk have bought this year or I can get just one example as Eoghan has supplied here. Regardless, the love for the record and the music it holds is still the same. It’s at this point I would like to introduce you to a Pennyblack vinyl virgin! Born in August 1971 when T-Rex were at number one, Dixie Ernhill comes from a small Lancashire village called Summerseat. Dixie’s first ever single ‘Stop The Cavalry’ by Jona Lewis was a gift and the first disc he ever bought himself was the mighty Go Wild In The Country by Bow Wow Wow. He didn’t get into proper record collecting until about 1987 when he started buying up everything The Smiths had done and then broadened his hunt into most of the Manchester bands. His first gig was The Sugarcubes at Newcastle Mayfair in 1989saw Cud loads of times from 1990 onwards and logged several James gigs Dixie is a massive fan of The Brilliant Corners and all of singer / songwriter Davey Woodward’s subsequent bands. In addition to seeing him live around sixty to seventy times, he has collected every record, most of the live tapes plus all the available demos on sale. Our Dixie has the vinyl deep within his psyche and he also confesses to owning an almost a complete collection of singles by indie bands from the late Eighties onwards including the aforementioned James, Cud, The Smiths and The Wedding Present plus The Bodines and loads of obscure fanzine type bands. As he has got older his tastes have broadened and he now likes nothing else but collecting classic singles such as Summer Wine by Nancy Sinatra, The Passenger by Iggy Pop along with that is classic 1960s or ‘80s. The only thing I can fault him on is being a fellow lifelong Bury FC supporter! Only joking. I have spent many a time at Gigg Lane watching my team, especially Kasper Schmeichel’s muddy puddle incident. I was gutted when they ceased as a club. An avid cricketer, Dixie has his first ever list below for our perusal. Dixie Ernll: My love of vinyl has never really waned since I first started actively collecting it in the mid-1980s. In recent times, CD albums have become more practical for car journeys, but the 7” single is always my preferred format. Over the last twelve months I have upped my second hand single buys, mainly from record shops and charity shops, but occasionally online too. Key purchases have been: · Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: Summer Wine · Roxy Music: More Than This · David Essex: Silver Dream Machine · Billy Ocean: Red Light Spells Danger · The Love Affair: Everlasting Love · The Merseybeats: Don’t Turn Around · The Popguns: Popism I’ve also snapped up a couple Railway Children singles to complete my collection of their 7” releases. On the album front, the To Sir With Love soundtrack arrived from America. The Mindbenders track on it, It’s Getting Harder All The Time is a forgotten pop classic which was criminally only released as a single in the USA and the Philippines. I’ve also bought a host of obscure indie band compilations from Firestation Records in Germany including: · Magazine: This Poison · Big Bridges and Smelly Factories: Wake Up Afrika · Kindly Written Words: Feverfew I’ve also picked up some great indie releases by The Muldoons, Trashcan Sinatras and St Christopher. Elsewhere the excellent Last Night From Glasgow label released Mystic Science by Davey Woodward And The Winter Orphans on vinyl-only, which stands as my favourite of the year. It’s a wonderful brew of folk, pop and even ska on the jaunty ‘Blue Min’ and it has the best Christmas song in years in the shape of ‘After Midnight’. Dave Goodwin: Oh my God Dixie lad, look what you’ve started now! One of my favourite ever possessions is my Dad’s record box which I inherited when he sadly passed away. In it were some huge singles from back in the day including loads of black music and a copy of Summer Wine by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood. It’s brought back some fond memories that’s for sure. I also bought More Than This by Roxy Music when I was kid, I thought that track was the sound of its time. I have a big 1970s and disco collection that houses a copy of Silver Dream Machine by David Essex plus Red Light Spells Danger and Everlasting Love, both Northern Soul / disco anthems. And there we go again joining Mr. Clarkson on the Last Night From Glasgow label love! I do however have to rewind a bit to the start of Dixie’s list and reprimand him for swearing. I can’t even bring myself to say the two letters of the silver, more inadequate and smaller disc. Oh dear, it seems my good colleague Ben Howard has done the same thing. Hes only gone and mentioned the compact whatsit thingy ma bob. But it does seem like he has tackled this year’s purchases with military precision and it goes something like this… Ben Howarth: I’ve stuck to my ‘Nothing I already have on CD and only surefire winners’ rule this year, so that means some tactical additions from music past and new releases from my absolute favourites. From the past, I lapped up the long-delayed reissue of De Le Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising, a tour de force of silliness and great sampling and T-Rex’s Electric Warrior, an album that is simultaneously incredibly well known and yet somehow massively underrated. I also decided it was finally time to own my own copy of an album literally everybody else in the world already owns, Graceland by Paul Simon. I’ve been listening to this a lot. I haven’t bothered with his new one. More than a decade after its release, I finally added a copy of ‘Let England Shake’ by PJ Harvey to my shelves, it’s been on heavy rotation. I’ll probably get round to her new album I Inside the Old Year Dying in 2033. I also tucked into some greatest hits compilations, a facsimile edition of Aretha Franklin’s 1960s issued Best Of is essential. The first of at least sixteen different Greatest Hits you can buy from her, not to mention many, many other compilations, but this has all the ones you know on it. Supergrass present their greatest hits, ‘The Strange Ones’ in reverse chronological order, so you start with some unfamiliar glam-boogies and end with the ‘actual hits’ on Side 4. It’s only their second greatest hits album, so they have some catching up to do on Aretha. Close contemporaries Ash have gone one better, as they are onto their third compilation with ‘Teenage Wildlife’. It’s another mix of new songs that you won’t know and older ones that you will. They released all-new album ‘Race the Night’ this year too, it’s on my Christmas list. Not a greatest hits, but certainly a ‘greatest bits’ comes from Suede, whose best songs are almost all found on their late Nineties B-sides compilation ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’. A triple vinyl this one, although I don’t play the post-Bernard Butler era third disc quite as often. I did also buy some new music on vinyl this year, including all the Top 4 albums in my 2023 best of list: The Young ’Uns, Jarrod Dickinson, Almost Nothing – the new name for Roddy Woomble’s solo work – and Anna B. Savage. You won’t regret doing the same, they are all fantastic. Hmm, that’s quite a lot spent on vinyl isn’t it? Good thing none of this music is available to listen to for free on the internet otherwise it would possibly be seen as a bit of a waste. Oh, wait… Dave Goodwin: Apologies Mr. Howarth no more time for you and your musical shenanigans! Only joking Ben. Anyone that has a copy of the genius 3 Feet High And Rising is of the vinyl persuasion in my book, I bought a copy of Eye Know back in the day. That whistling hook drove my mum and dad crazy. I also own the next two on the list. I was never too sure what to make of ‘Graceland’, there was a lot of differences of opinions about the Paul Simon LP at the time and still is now. We reviewed a live gig from Derby involving Ash way, way back in this very magazine as we have with the mighty Suede. I love the drama of Suede live, Brett is a superstar. Interesting thoughts about Bernard Butler though who went on to co-write another two of my all-time favourite tracks with David McAlmont, Yes and Falling. Don’t worry about costs of vinyl Ben, all records need a good home. Having said that the rising cost of it is a recent rant of mine in last month’s Vinyl Stories. Anyway talking of me, I’m going to wish you and our contributors and a wonderful New Year and I’ll leave you with my purchases this year. Dave Goodwin: 45s: Classic Sullivans: Shame Shame Shame (Master Key Records) Classy Chicago Northern Soul / crossover group soul 45 released in 1968 and written by Eddie Sullivan with Clarence Jackson and Johnny Cameron at the controls. Johnny Taylor: Just The One Ive Been Looking For – (Stax) Johnny Taylor’s distinctive voice belts out a mighty mid-tempo outpouring of emotion. Written By Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd and Alvertis Isbell in 1966. Del Capris: Hey Little Girl (Ronjerdon) I got this on its first label, before the Kama Sutra release. Two great sides but it’s the A side that I bought it for. As with the Dells track a bit further along, this was instrumental in winning me over when I first discovered Northern Soul. Los Canerios: Get On Your Knees (Calla) Los Canerios are a strange affair to be honest, they were more of a prog rock type outfit by the mid-1970s, but it’s this earlier outing that was on my list. A massive, Latin-tinged Northern Soul cut from 1970. The Herbs: Put A Hurtin’ On My Heart (Smoke) Huge disc from 1969 by a killer vocal group. A Northern Soul mid-pacer produced by George Blackwell. Now hard to find, it grabs a much bigger price tag than it ever did. Maxine Brown: One In A Million (Wand) This is a piece of classic Northern Soul from 1965, a golden year and the very quintessence of the mid Sixties. Originally picked up at the Blackpool Mecca which goes right back to the heyday of the movement. Solomon Burke: Cry To Me (Atlantic) You might think that this is just any old bit of classic Atlantic soul? Cry to Me is a song written by Bert Berns and first recorded by Burke in 1961, then released the year after. Today it commands a decent figure if you wanted it. The Dells: There Is / Show Me (Cadet) The Dells were an American R&B vocal group formed in high school in 1950’s. Having a massive output including the huge Northern hit Run For Cover, this is one of the tracks that got me into Northern in the first place. Finally managed to pick up a copy. Madeline Bell: Picture Me Gone (Philips) This is one that I’m sure needs no introduction to anyone who loves the Soul scene. An absolute monster of a record from 1967 that a certain person used to spin quite easily to. I’m older now and decided to acquire an original. I spin solo in the front room now so no-one can see me topple over! Della Reese: It Was A Very Good Year (ABC) Not strictly a Northern track but it has infectious beat and Della’s inimitable vocals makes this just sublime soul track one of my favourite tunes ever. Christine Cooper: Heartaches Away My Boy (Cameo Parkway) Another monster of a record in the Northern bible. This one however set me back a princely sum. Didn’t tell my wife though. Sorry love… Albums: OMD: Bauhaus Staircase (White Noise) A lifelong OMD fan I have everything they’ve released so I had to keep the tradition going. Still not sure about this one? Sounds like going back to the beginning but not as passionate? It’ll grow on you. Young Fathers: Heavy Heavy (Ninja Tune) Their ‘Later with Jools’ appearance blew me away. Hailing from Scotland, Liberia and a little bit of Maryland USA, this is possibly my fave of the year. Awesome! Thanks to John, Eoghan, Dixie and Ben for their lists and to everyone that reads the mighty Pennyblack and keep buying more vinyl. Keep ‘em spinnin’.



Picture Gallery:-
Best of Vinyl 2023 - Vinyl Stories


Best of Vinyl 2023 - Vinyl Stories


Best of Vinyl 2023 - Vinyl Stories


Best of Vinyl 2023 - Vinyl Stories



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