Some wicked stuff in this week! Plus a Top Ten from Richard Johnson of Fourth Dimension Records!

Yo from Reckless!

This Blog was written to the sounds of..The Sound! I’d never knowingly heard these before but am checking them out based on Tom Klutes recommendation in last weeks blog!

Insanely busy week this week – loads of great records coming in and records flying out of the racks.

Whats come in:

  1. Sean was out at a Rock and Blues collection in South London midweek. It was around 3-400 titles. Lots of Classic titles as well as a few oddities. Plenty of standard but cool titles from Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Groundhogs, Howlin Wolf, Led Zeppelin, Cream. As well as quite a few decent Jazz titles from people like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and a fair few LPs on ECM.
  2. The lady who sold us a load of Reggae last week was back with more titles (from Augustus Pablo, Yabby You, Prince Jammy, Tommy McCook, Crucial Bunny, Mike Brooks, Scientist etc. As well as a load of House records.
  3. Toru is going to Japan in a few weeks and has been selling in so many cool Japanese records. Like hundreds of them! Loads of Japanese pressings of rare Jazz LPs, City Pop, Japanese Jazz Funk, Traditional Music etc. Some really rare and collectible titles that are really hard to buy here in the UK.
  4. Amazing small pile of (sadly fairly worn) titles from Patto, Tubby Hayes, The Faces, Small Faces and Nirvana (UK). The Nirvana LP (The Story Of Simon Simopath) is one of my favourite UK 60s LPs – and the cover has to be right at the top with one of the greatest Psychedelic LP sleeves ever. Like I mentioned above these are pretty beat but priced a lot cheaper and all play tested. They are priced between £175 and £1.
  5. Some amazing Indie Rock/Shoegaze/Grunge LPs came in this week – mostly really nice nick too. These included an original issue of Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab originals, Mercury Rev, The Folk Implosion, Felt, Broadcast, The Beta Band etc. There were also a few cool soundtracks including The Ipcress File, Get Carter and an “original” Trunk red vinyl pressing of The Wicker Man.
  6. Al was buying pretty much all day yesterday – the first collection was a really interesting few boxes of weird oddities. All different kinds of music but a lot to Soul. Lots of demos, including a lot of Motown demos. Plenty of obscure UK Boogie 45s as well as Rock/Sixties/Blues 45s too.
  7. The second collection was a Soul 45 collection – including lots of interesting obscure titles and a lot of Northern Soul repros (as well as a few original issues). Several hundred of these 45s.
  8. Lukey boy sold in a load more LPs yesterday including lots of unusual Noise, Industrial, Drone titles from artists like Circle, Lustmord, Sun Ra, Throbbing Gristle etc. Loads of more obscure titles too.
  9. Another little pile of nice Death Metal LPs came in – this time from a new seller. Original Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide LPs.
  10. A few Faust LPs from a seller with a big Faust collection. Hes coming back this week apparently.
  11. I sold in a few records too (Phil Cohran, Roy Harper, Gavin Bryars etc).

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Whats gone out this week?

A) Loads of killer Electro (original US Electro titles), Detroit Techno, US House, Chicago House, NY House, Boogie, Deep House 12″s from the big collection we bought last week.

B) Reggae CDs and LPs

C) Modern Avant Garde LPs from Steve Reich, Gavin Bryars, Philip Glass, Terry Riley

D) Indie Rock LPS and 45s

E) Jazz

F) Trip Hop / Downtempo LPs and 12″s

G) Death Metal / Black Metal CDs

H) Garage Rock LPs

I) Loads of new and fresh Cheaps

J) Loads of interesting 45s (Folk, Psych, 60s, Avant, Punk (including a deadstock Gobblinz 45 from the band), Garage, Exotica)

K) Obviously a load of Halloween titles (anything with a spooky sleeve from Whodini to Shut Up & Dance to Aphrodites Child).

L) Classical LPs


Plenty of collections coming up so watch this space!

This weeks Top Ten we have Richard Johnson from Fourth Dimension Records! As well as running Fourth Dimension Richo also found time to be in Splintered, Playground, Husk, Slugbait, Theme as well as writing Grim Humour fanzine. Theres a Grim Humour book coming out soon – I highly recommend you buy one from Fourth Dimension!

TOP TEN ALBUMS FOR RECKLESS

In no particular order and often susceptible to changes, but
largely consistent for the most part for many years now. I am
only listing the details of the original release. All have been
reissued and can still be found easily enough. Of course, I love
loads of newer artists and releases, too, but I’ve selected those
which have already been with me for a considerable while and
continue to move me with every return listen, or that I have
been listening to repeatedly in more recent years. I’ve also
aimed for a diverse selection that hasn’t even touched on other
areas of music I love (no room for Leonard Cohen, Whitehouse,
John Coltrane, Can, Smog, Sun City Girls or Ranaldo & the
Loaf here!). I should also add that I really enjoy the work of
each and every artist I now often work with, including
Alternative TV, Kleistwahr, Richard Youngs, Hand & Leg, Gad
Whip, Ramleh, Sion Orgon, Map 71, JFK, Micromelancolie and,
of course, my own groups, Splintered and Theme.

WIRE 154 LP (Harvest, 1979)
Still have my now well-worn copy from when I first bought it in
about 1982 as a teenager searching through music that came
out of the punk hinterland yet went beyond it. Wire never
especially fitted with ‘punk’ anyway, but 154 is where they
especially compound just how far removed they were from the
increasingly narrow confines afforded by many of its main
protagonists. This album is one of moods buoyed along by
sliding greyscale textures, incandescent melodies, occasionally
tempered and distorted rhythmic surges and the kind of lyrical
bite that bridges the gap between experience and a sense of
otherness the music complements perfectly. I love Wire pretty
much all the way through, really, though. Their various other
projects and some of the solo endeavours, too. It’s this album I continue to turn to the most (outside the Dome ones), however,
simply because even though I already owned a copy of both
Pink Flag and Chairs Missing beforehand it was this that
emphasised the group’s possibilities the most. Hard to pick any
one song from this as a standout, but ‘A Touching Display’ is as
mighty a choice as the others. Like the album itself, the group
are in a class of their own.

CROMAGNON Orgasm LP (ESP Disk, 1969)
I first stumbled on this through Stefan Jaworzyn’s much missed
Scum List of secondhand and rare records, which I used to get
printed for him at an old workplace when I lived in the UK. I
started out with a CD reissue called Cave Rock, although
interestingly it’s an earlier version than the 2009 one noted on
Discogs (I ceased printing Scum Lists in 2005, when I moved to
Poland), but there’s no date to be found on it. I have an idea I
got it in about 2001 and that the disc itself is from the ‘90s.
Whatever, a phenomenal album I’ve subsequently also bought
a vinyl reissue of. The very first time I heard it I was unaware of
anything concerning the two main guys responsible, Austin
Grasmere and Brian Elliot, who’ve both unfortunately long gone
and can no longer espouse on the work of utter genuius that
constitutes Orgasm. The opener, ‘Caledonia’, with its battering
ram underpinning, manic vocals, walls of hiss and wailing
bagpipes is enough in and of itself to prove the likes of Butthole
Surfers weren’t that novel. And that’s after a smattering of
detuned radio shit forming part of the intro. From this point on,
things get even more bizarre as the group build songs from
what sounds like playing around with whatever junk they could
lay their hands on in the studio. I used to play ‘Crow of the
Black Tree’ regularly when I used to DJ in Krakow with my
friend Mark. People would only jerk around to it on the
dancefloor if completely hammered and not one of them ever
asked me what the song was. Little wonder Crogmagnon remain something of a very much hidden gem.

ALTERNATIVE TV Vibing Up the Senile Man (Part One) LP
(Deptford Fun City Records, 1979)
Like Wire in the sense that Mark Perry’s forever fantastic and
amorphous group started out as a more regular punk assault
(releasing some stunning singles during this phase, too, such
as ‘How Much Longer’ and ‘Life’) but, disillusioned with where
punk was heading, transmogrified into a far more ambitious
concern. The eight songs that constitute Alternative TV’s fourth
album, although second studio recorded one, sound like the
group, having already toured with Here & Now, really wanted to
not only turn ‘punk’ on its head, but piss off just about
everybody who’d thus far supported the group in the process.
For me, that’s even more ‘punk’ than punk. The music itself
trawls through basement clatter, a piano serving as drums, a
flute that appears like its being ‘played’ after having been
shoved into a windy infant’s arse, fucked up electronic splurge,
subterranean water swirls and a brooding sensibility that
sometimes falls into a whirlpool of anxieties. On top of all this
are Perry’s ravaged poetry vocals, which often seem like they’re
forged from cut-ups or merely sketched ideas then improvised
from. As much as I love AMM, I always hoped they’d sound
more like this when I first heard them. Vibing… more than
compensates, though. Perry could have easily have played the
accessibility card at the time and elevated his group to the point
they could have made a greater stamp on the public
consciousness. Thankfully, he chose the more uncompromising
path instead. In more recent years I’ve been working with him
myself. The man is something of an inspiration so I can’t
underline enough just how much of an honour this is. His work
in Alternative TV continues to go wherever the hell he wants it
to as well. Exactly as it should be.

THE CURE Pornography LP (Fiction, 1982)
I first heard of The Cure in 1979, when one of my friends at
school managed to see them at the Odeon in Canterbury.
Unfortunately, my especially strict stepdad prevented me from
going to any ‘punk’ gigs at the time, so I missed out on several
such gigs I’d have happily gone along with my school pals to
given the chance. Said friend gave me a Three Imaginary Boys
album cover badge I almost immediately adorned my blazer
lapel with after confirming the group were ‘punk’. I was 13-
years-old so think I can excuse this! I’m not sure how long that
badge was worn, alongside my PIL, Skids and Blondie ones,
but the image always intrigued me. It’s been subsequently
dismissed by Robert Smith as a cheap cash-in on the group’s
then adhering to the notion of an ‘anti-image’, but the
photograph of innocuous household objects/appliances
seemed, at the time, to serve as some kind of statement against
domesticity or everyday blandness. Of course, like so many
others around this period, The Cure were being initially
marketed as a regular punk group, despite their music already
displaying clear signs of going beyond that. Although marked by
the exact same attitude it was a little too articulate, or smart, to
be generally seen as part of the main batch. Then, between this
and the album I’ve selected, simply because I’ve loved its raw
and gnashing charm since I first bought it as a 17-year-old, the
group refined their sound and, apparently inspired by Mahler,
Eno and Wire, began focusing on painting songs in deeper
tones, rich in atmosphere and existential dread. Pornography,
their fourth album, then witnessed these textures violently torn
apart. The group had begun taking so many drugs that mental
collapse seemed the only way out. This is what’s captured
perfectly on Pornography. An amalgam of anger, frustration and
despair, the music is both violent and claustrophobic, with little
to help claw it towards any semblance of accessibility. The
guitars are played bloodily and the simplistic drums sound like
Swans testing their kit. All the while, organs gasp and drone at the same time the tormented lyrics, flecked with snarling
contempt, spiral headlong into a deep black hole of their own
making. Once again, it’s an uncompromising listen that never once
attempted to appease anybody too readily. It feels insular or,
more to the point, like being caught in the sea next to a broken
ship as it goes down. Unlike so much music that does more or
less the same thing (early Swans, again, being a prime
example), there’s little light, or hope, here. It seems to embody
the absolute futility, and fragility, of existence.
To deem it ‘goth’, as so many lazy bastards do, goes against it
completely. I always saw Smith and co. as having more in
common with that, again, early punk attitude of doing whatever
the fuck they felt like at that given time. There’s no possible way
The Cure could have bettered where they went on
Pornography, though. This is a place best visited only once, at
least artistically. The album achieves more than most dumbfuck
‘noise’ artists could ever aspire to with its crushing intensity, and
I’d contend it’s a component of The Cure that’s been in their
convoluted mix ever since.

RAMLEH A Grudge For Life LP (Vis-a-Vis Audio Arts, Japan,
1989)
This comes from a time when my fanzine, Grim Humour, was
pretty popular and in addition to this I’d have my label, mail
order and, indeed, own group. Living in Herne Bay meant you
had to quite literally do everything yourself if one wanted
something ‘happening’. I was already familiar with Ramleh
before I received a copy of this LP in either a trade or amongst
some stock for my mail order, anyway. At the time, I’d have
been starting to crave music which could replace the diet of
Swans, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, The Jesus Lizard,
Killdozer, Big Black or whoever I’d mostly been listening to the
previous few years and which, by this time, was beginning to seem rather flat. I’d been introduced to new worlds via
Japanese noise artists, old free jazz records, a smattering of
techno and New Zealand improvised noise-rock, amongst
others. I was also paying attention to some homegrown artists,
such as Loop and Head Of David on the one hand and, on the
other, far less popular one, Richard Youngs. When I first heard
Grudge For Life I drew almost instant parallels with some of the
work of the latter and Simon Wickham-Smith. There were
similarly anguished vocals, keyboard stabs where drums should
be, brooding textures and washes of sound suggesting things
were never going to be quite the same again. I loved it. It
sounded like the work of two young men, Gary Mundy and
Philip Best, who’d long derailed and never especially wanted to
return to the tracks. The fact that the LP sleeve didn’t shed
much light on them only added to the music’s allure, too. This
was another of those records that instantly grabbed me. A rare
thing. Since then, I’ve gone on to organise a gig by Ramleh in
Poland and, indeed, work with them both as Ramleh and with
Gary and Anthony Di Franco’s solo endeavours. The mystery
may have diminished, but it’s revealed them, and their close
affiliates, to be sterling individuals. Ramleh continue to produce
wonderful work, too. The paradoxical testament to their
greatness is their relative obscurity, although quite rightly
they’re not as hard to find as they once were.

ROBERT ASHLEY Automatic Writing LP (Lovely Music, 1979,
USA)
I seem to be selecting a few albums released in 1979. Purely
coincidental, though. Robert Ashley’s third album, Automatic
Writing, is every bit as good as other records of his released
during this same period. I can’t comment on much beyond that
because I only have a handful of his albums, with the last one I
own being the equally engaging Yellow Man With Heart With
Wings CD from 1990. I have no idea where I first picked his records up from, either. Maybe These Records’ mail order or
the Scum List once again? All I know is that when I first heard
Automatic Writing in particular I couldn’t stop listening to it and
ever since then I turn to it regularly. Caught somewhere
between a relaxing listen of tempered abstract music with
sound poetry and something more unsettled and full of disquiet,
the three pieces that constitute the CD version I have (replete
with the bonus short piece, ‘She Was A Visitor’, originally
directed by Alvin Lucier) are utterly entrancing and beguiling. I
cannot recall if this album was ever on the Nurse With Wound
list, but it certainly deserves a place there. Of the two lengthy
and eponymous pieces that forged the original release, I can
only say their magic worked its way into me instantly. Ravaged
and hushed voices are buoyed along by grizzled electronics
that are at once uneasy and atmospheric yet kept to a subdued
level which only adds to their bruised charm. The way the
voices work served as a huge inspiration for me in my own work
in Theme, actually. Not that anybody is paying any attention!

PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED Flowers of Romance LP (Virgin,
1981)
Where to start? Firstly, the debut PIL single, which I first heard
at a local Friday night disco in late 1978 (then bought as soon
as I could after) was, more so than the Pistols, something of an
epiphany for me. I then picked up the subsequent singles
because they were all I could afford at the time with money
pooled from a paper round and whatever wasn’t spent on
disgusting school dinners. I was too young to really understand
them completely, but they appealed to me regardless of my
inability to articulate why. Of course, Johnny Rotten/Lydon
remained a captivating frontman, but everything about the
music his group created both confounded and energised me.
Then came the ‘Flowers of Romance’ single, which I first saw
on Top of the Pops and, like the debut, pulled me in completely. I bought it and then, finally beginning to find money enough to
pick up LPs, bought the album and couldn’t stop playing it. The
tribal drums were immediate enough on most of the songs, but
it was the violin and weird keyboard stabs that I really liked.
Besides Lydon’s contorted howls and sneer-flecked chants, no
less. It’s not so often that every track on an album proves to be
a winner, but that’s how each and every one here is for me,
from the opener, ‘Four Enclosed Walls’, through the title track
and the staggering ‘Under the House’, to the closing ‘Francis
Massacre’. I realise that most go for PIL’s second album, Metal Box, which is absolutely deserving of its status as a triumphant record anybody with an interest in genuinely exploratory music should own, but Flowers of Romance always struck a deeper chord with me for its simply being amongst the very first albums I ever bought. I got Metal Box a while later and, like several others from this period in
music, proceeded to keep up with everything beyond
Flowers…, despite often being disappointed (although I feel
This Is What You Want…This Is What You Get, from 1984, is
underrated even if it is patchy, plus remains threaded with some
avant-garde touches I tend to appreciate in music that can
reach a wider audience). Flowers of Romance is, however,
another avant-garde winner. Hard to imagine how such music
could have made it to the UK charts now, too.

THE CONGOS Heart of the Congos LP (Black Art, 1977,
Jamaica)
My interest in roots reggae, rocksteady and original ska, etc.
has grown out of a deeper one in dub music that itself has
broadened over the last couple of decades and was possibly
initially instigated by groups like PIL, The Ruts, Killing Joke,
Basement 5, The Pop Group and others dabbling in it. I’m far
from an expert in this area, but can say I love the music of
groups/artists such as Steel Pulse, The Aggrovators, Augustus Pablo, The Skatalites, Scientist, Max Romeo, Horace Andy and
countless others. When I can, I keep adding to my collection of
such music, too. It is unquestionably obvious, but so much of
this music simply makes me feel good, no matter how
understandably politicised a lot of it can be. The Congos are no
exception in this respect, often singing about real life topics
anybody around the globe who has to give up their time, blood,
sweat and tears to earn a crust can relate to. It’s the
juxtaposition of this with their extraordinary voices and the
incredible, lilting yet weighty basslines that renders everything
so wholly magical. That word again. This truly deserves to be
described as ‘magical’, though. I understand it’s not for
everybody, like all music, but when I’ve been going through a
low period, such music is guaranteed to get me firmly and fully
hotwired to feeling motivated again. Simple as that. I don’t have
the original LP as it costs a fortune now, but I have the slightly
expanded Blood & Fire 2LP reissue from 1996 (not itself easy to
find cheap these days, either!). Blood & Fire is a great label and
possibly the one thing we can say in Mick Hucknall’s defense,
since he co-founded it. I have quite a number of records on this
great label.

SCOTT WALKER Scott 4 LP (Philips, 1969)
Another album I actually only have a CD reissue of, but it’s one
that gets played often in my home as my fiancee, Iwona,
likewise enjoys it and hearing it now makes me think of our
drinking wine on a lazy, sun-baked Sunday afternoon and
discussing its countless merits. Listening to obscure post-punk
or whatever in our home is a more solitary pursuit for me, but
early Scott Walker can be blasted loud from the main system
and used to annoy the neighbours with. Not that there’s
anything at all annoying about this beautiful music and its being
driven by perhaps one of the best voices ever to have
emanated from a man whose very name conjures images of the kind of broken and battered romanticism usually reserved for
poets. There is poetry here, however. This music, with its tender
string arrangements sometimes dovetailing with more
bombastic rhythms and backing choruses, is as poetic as
Walker’s smart lyrics. Some of the songs have an Ennio
Morricone-esque feel to them, but ultimately this is out on its
own. A few years ago, I’d have claimed Tilt to be my favourite
album of his and whilst there’s a ring of truth to that, the
warmth, immediacy and depth of the early works are what I turn
to most often now. Scott 4 exemplifies this appeal perfectly as it
both roots one to the moment it occupies and feels
transportative. Like all of my favourite albums (and there are far
too many to snag on a simple top ten list of them!), this one
pulls me to that same fantastic place every time, with ‘The Old
Man’s Back Again’ getting repeat-played the most often.
Wonderful stuff.

DAVID BOWIE Heathen CD (Columbia, 2002)
This might seem an unlikely choice given just how many
amazing albums Bowie produced, but I’m including it because
it’s the one I listen to the most these days. Of course, like many
others, I first heard Bowie a few decades ago. His music never
stamped on my conciousness really until I saw the ‘Ashes to
Ashes’ video on Top of the Pops at an old friend’s house. This
friend then bought the Scary Monsters… LP and I recall our
listening to this heavily in between fixes of The Stranglers,
Blondie, X-Ray Spex, Skids, the Pistols and so on. However,
the first LP I picked up was Ziggy Stardust a couple of years or
so later when, once again, I was finally in a position to afford
more than just singles. Because punk led me to exploring
Bowie, the Velvets, Captain Beefheart, Throbbing Gristle, the
Stooges and others around the same time, I feel this period
represented the real beginning of my opening up to different
types of music, even if initially ‘punk approved’. I never delved deep into Bowie’s back catalogue until a number of years later,
however, when I could find many LPs sold cheap at a
secondhand place in Canterbury or reissued on CD. Even then,
I only picked away at certain releases over the subsequent
years until his untimely death at the start of 2016. Blackstar
then became a firm favourite for a while until I realised I ought
to address the problem I had with some missing albums.
Heathen was amongst those I duly picked up and have been
addicted to ever since. Typical for Bowie, it might seem quite ordinary or pedestrian on the surface, but there’s a depth to it that spirals into a sense of otherworldliness which then bursts with the sound of hope on the triumphant yet somewhat melancholy ’Slow Burn’ – another of those songs that snags me for at least a few listens before I can move on to the next track. It’s Bowie’s traversing between his melancholic sensibilities, tiny flecks of avant-garde
undercurrents and a songwriting craft that can art-rock with the
best of them that especially comes out on Heathen. Naturally,
it’s hard for me to choose between Low, Scary Monsters…,
Station to Station, (Blackstar) and a few other albums, really,
but this is both the album of his I most play these days and want
to draw attention to for its not being one of the more typical
ones. A perfect listen and, like Scott Walker himself, buoyed by
another amazing voice I’m glad he left with us on these
stunning records.

Fourth Dimension Records & Friends event in London,
November 29/30:

http://www.fourthdimensionrecords.com/events.html

Recent and upcoming releases:
https://fourthdimensionrecords.bigcartel.com/products

 

Nice one thanks Richo!

And thanks to you for reading – till next week!

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