Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recent Barngains

Clockwise from top left: The Congos: Heart of the Congos (2xCD, £1, car boot sale) I can count the reggae albums I own on one hand but apparently this is all I really need. Produced with surprising understatement by Lee Scratch Perry, this is the definite 2-CD version containing all the Congos' Black Ark Studio sessions of the time plus a nice booklet. Now goes for £20+ on eBay/Amazon but probably more sensible buying it new for £10 from label Blood and Wire's website (whose online shop doesn't seem to work at the moment). In the middle of the bizarre collage-like cover is the original album cover.

Laurie Anderson: Big Science (LP, £1, charity shop) Of course I have this on CD but it's nice to have it on vinyl too.

Ian Hunter: You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic (LP, 50p, car boot sale) Ex-lead singer of Mott the Hoople's fourth solo LP is arguably his best. Backed by several members of the E-Street Band as well as Mick Ronson, most famous for his work with Bowie, on guitars, it also guests John Cale on one song. 'One of the true gems of late-70s rock & roll', say

Half Man Half Biscuit: Back in the DHSS (LP, £1.50, charity shop) The title might be a reference to the Beatles' Back in the USSR but Half Man Half Biscuit are totally original: post-punk, subversive, whimsical and very funny, this was their first LP, taking shots at minor celebrities and boring, tedious Britain.

Ella Fitzgerald: Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart Songbooks (Two 2xCD box sets, 50p each, car boot sale) Two lavish Verve box sets. Backed by incomparable bands, in the mid-50s Ella could do no wrong; all her Songbook interpretations are superb. Great for listening to on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or at 2am.

The Fall: 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong (2xCD, £3, HMV) There's a constant underwhelming sale on the HMV website but their current in-store clearance sale has far better barngains. Lots of albums released last year are £3; I also picked up several Brian Eno CDs for £3 (including a collaboration with Robert Fripp, Evening Star), The Echo And The Bunnymen 4CD box set, Crystal Days, for £8, and this, perhaps the best overview of The Fall available, with its humorous cover and title a pastiche of Elvis's 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong album.

The Triffids: Born Sandy Devotional (£1, car boot sale) Got this from the same stall as The Congos actually. It was like a dream stall! (Also got some other decent CDs there.) The Triffids, even though they're Australian, are great. This one has bonus tracks and a cool booklet.

Centre: Teal Triggs: Fanzines (book, £1, charity shop) You can't buy anything nowadays without it hurting someone. This excellent overview of fanzines, published last year by Thames & Hudson and packed with over 750 illustrations, has caused some Amazon reviewers to boycott it, mainly those whose fanzines appear in the book but have been uncredited. They've even got a website slagging off the book. Couldn't they spend their time boycotting Nestl√© or Isreali fruit instead? It seems a bit petty to me, especially in the internet age where millions of bloggers ignore such issues as copyright and permission. I know a published book is different, but at least they're getting some publicity.

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