It’s not quite as amazing as JFK’s love child turning up in Vancouver, but the appearance of a full disc of unknown demo recordings by late singer/songwriter Jim Ford this week is exciting news nonetheless for country-soul fans. Bear Family’s new Point Of No Return disc adds to the wealth of lost recordings that surfaced on last year’s awesome The Sounds Of Our Time collection. These funky fine tunes show Ford could’ve been a country chart contender if he only could’ve kept his addictions in check during the rise of the outlaw movement.
No less intriguing are the accompanying notes, including the colourful recollections of close Ford friends like Stiff Records boss Dave Robinson (“Jim pulled this huge bag of cocaine out of his underpants”), Bobby Womack (“Jim hit him hard with a frying pan”) and PJ Proby (“Jim handed me a gun and wanted me to shoot him if he tried to kill me”). Sounds like a Will Ferrell film waiting to happen. www.bear-family.de
An inspirational figure for Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Jimmy Cliff, the late Joe Higgs was among the first to demonstrate lyrically how growing up in Trenchtown could be an advantage, and the generations that followed were clearly listening. Unfortunately, Higgs has largely been overlooked by reissue labels.
So it’s great news that Pressure Sounds has just put out 1975’s Life Of Contradiction album, on which Higgs is tastefully backed by guitarist Eric Gale, who brings a jazzy vibe to the soulful roots session. Fans of Derrick Harriott and Toots Hibbert will be delighted. www.pressure.co.uk
To celebrate 50 years of bossa nova, the UK Far Out label is enlisting serious collector/DJs to compile their favourite vintage Brazilian jams, beginning with the bad boy of Bari, Nicola Conte. As might be expected from dance-floor don Conte, the 15-track Viagem selection leans toward jazzier small-combo bossa bangers from the 60s – you know, the classy numbers he drops in his sets by the Sansa Trio, Zimbo Trio, Som3, Sambossa 5 and two piano-led swingers from Tenório Jr.’s Embalo album that’s under his arm in the sleeve illustration. Makes for a sweet dinner mix. Watch for the next installment curated by Andy “No Tell” Votel to get things rockin’ tropicalia style. www.faroutrecordings.com
It’s not often I feel compelled to recommend a disc based on one song, but the Local Anesthetic (Smooch) compilation of punk singles released between 1977 and 83 by the Colorado label of the same name is a must-have for the monstrous proto-grunge anthem My Dad’s A Fucking Alcoholic, by the Frantix. Menacingly slow, distorted and wholly demented, the oddly catchy blast sounds like an even more lo-fi precursor to the Melvins’ evil metalloid mutations that would inspire Nirvana and the entire Seattle scene. Unfortunately, none of the Frantix’ other tunes are anywhere near as amazing. The same goes for the other snarly punk ditties by White Trash, Your Funeral, Young Weasels and the Rok Tots, but track one is a killer. www.smoochrecords.com