Expensive Free Pop
When I first came across a copy of the Free Pop Electronic Concept’s A New Exciting Experience LP, it never occurred to me that the mysterious Tony and Wando Lam behind the budget-line electronic cash-in were Portuguese soul brothers Antonio and Fernando Lameirinhas, better known as Jess & James. I picked it up for the trippy sleeve art, but what convinced me to plunk down the eight bucks was the title of the first track, Chewing Gum Delerium. Sold. Happily enough, this was one of those rare occasions when the music actually lives up to the dope cover and sick song titles.
Vampi Soul has just reissued the album in all its fucked-up and fuzzed-out glory, which sounds like Jess & James were aiming for a Perrey-Kingsley rip to please discotheque denizens but perhaps got a little tab-happy and overshot the mark clear into lurid J.P. Massiera territory. What must’ve seemed like bizarre and self-indulgent electro twaddle back in 1969 sounds remarkably contemporary amidst all the ghastly cosmic disco rocking iPods today. www.vampisoul.com.
If a record label’s success were measured only in chart positions and units shifted, Ardent studio/label’s unwavering string of misses would be considered a complete disaster. But those commercial flops account for some of the most exciting, edgy and eloquently written power pop and garage rock of the late 60s and early 70s.
Other than cult faves Big Star, the ace artists sampled on the terrific two-disc Thank You Friends (Big Beat) may not be familiar to those outside of Memphis, but Terry Manning, Cargoe, Tommy Hoehn, Scruffs, Sid Selvidge, and the Hot Dogs all deserved much better than they got. Alex Chilton fans will find the lovingly annotated comp worth the money just for the numerous previously unissued Big Star demos and alternate takes.
Those like me who can’t get enough of Manning’s twisted take on rock ’n’ soul need to grab a copy of Sunbeam’s reissue of his Dixie-fried masterwork Home Sweet Home, which comes with three cracked bonus cuts including a cover of Ann Peebles’s I Can’t Stand The Rain
backed by Hi guys Howard Grimes and Leroy Hodges. Nice. www.sunbeamrecords.com.
The folks behind the Kingston music community’s Skeleton Park Music Festival have come up with a clever way to raise funds to support the annual summer solstice celebration while promoting local talent – they’ve released the Friends Of Skeleton Park (Apple Crisp) compilation disc.
Along with contributions from neighbourhood heroines Sarah Harmer and Jenny Whiteley, the neatly packaged 22-track disc offers a stylistically diverse selection of tunes from the Burning Hell, Entire Cities, Krista Muir, the Gertrudes and the fab Kyra & Tully, whose otherwise unavailable Thunder Bay
has become my new theme song. If you’re in Kingston this weekend, drop by the CD release party at Central Public School on Saturday (April 26) from 2 to 4 pm. www.applecrisp.ca, www.skeletonparkmusicfestival.ca.