Painter Man
Shop Around Ö pt 34
And of course Orange Juiceís 'Lovesick' is not the only soul satisfying, life affirming song of that name. You just have to put Gang Starrís song next to the OJs on any compilation tape donít you? Iíve been thinking about tapes a lot. Iíve had the time to. Thatís because itís been a very therapeutic week painting everything that doesnít move, and indeed many things that do move. And I want to apologise publicly here to the cat from over the back, but that will teach it not to sneak up on me like that. Best to bang a drum next time buster!

My soundtrack to the painting has been a steady one of very old school hip hop, courtesy of a collection of cassettes salvaged from charity shops. Most played has been my hip hop holy trinity of Gang Starr, De La Soul, and Eric B & Rakim. I do get very wary saying that. It makes me nervous. Like Iím one of the classicists droning on about Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the Rolling Stones or something. If it somehow makes things better, though, the tapes I was playing mostly were No More Mr Nice Guy by Gang Starr, De La Soul Is Dead, and Eric B & Rakimís Donít Sweat The Technique. All absolutely classic works in my book, and as good as anything else those guys have done. All those beats and words spraying around all over the place, and thereís me practising my moves, which really is not a good idea as you end up with paint flying all over the place too. It doesnít go down well!

Another old school hip hop tape Iíve been playing a lot is the first Jurassic 5 record, which is something of a guilty pleasure. I love it, but feel I should disapprove of all the exhortations to rock the block and party like itís a real old wildstyle jam. Itís that whole getting back to real hip hop vibe that makes me slightly uneasy, no matter how well itís done. Itís exactly the sort of thing I get mad about, possibly unfairly, when people like Belle and Sebastian have talked zealously about going back and writing proper songs like what there used to be squire, and continuing some kind of tradition. Funnily enough there are probably all sorts of similarities between B&S and the J5 if you actually stopped and thought about it.

B&S have haunted me a little bit this week. I couldnít resist getting a lovely cheap edition of the groupís biography by Paul Whitelaw. I donít know how the notoriously passionate fans will react to this book, but the American edition I got hold of on St Martinís Griffin is kind of cute in its mock Readersí Digest charity shop chic hardback cover. I only picked it up because it struck me I know next to nothing about B&S, and canít even place any of their songs, so this seemed a fun way to find out. I could be very wrong. Just flicking through I noticed that Feltís 'The World Is As Soft As Lace' is referred to as an instrumental. Oh well!
The name and reputation of Belle and Sebastian is used by Rev-Ola to promote their very welcome reissue of Evie Sandsí Any Way That You Want Me set. To their eternal credit, some years back B&S performed with Evie (and mentor Chip Taylor) in their favourite church hall, and almost recorded with her. And if using their name helps persuade a few more souls buy this wonderful record then I can live with that. Evie is exceptionally beautiful, and made some of the most soulful pop records ever. She was also exceptionally unlucky with her timing. If that sounds like something I have said before about Kiki Dee, then yup thatís because Kiki too made some of the most soulful pop records ever, and was exceptionally unlucky with her timing to boot. And we are so ridiculously spoiled getting Kikiís Great Expectations and Evieís Any Way That You Want Me available again. Incidentally donít be scared to indulge in Evieís relatively recent Women In Prison. It features some achingly-lovely stripped-down country soul, with Evie looking strikingly wonderful on the cover. If the Emmylou records of the Ď90s have appealed and stirred the spirit in ways you never even expected, then youíll love Women In Prison.

So, we have our Kiki and our Evie. Now what about that other astonishing blue-eyed southern fried soul set from 1970? It surely is only a matter of time now before someone salvages Luluís Melody Fair! Iíve had the advantage this week of being able to play my old Atco vinyl edition, and it sounds totally gorgeous ≠ especially her slightly unlikely but utterly successful rendition of the Swamp Dogg/Doris Duke classic 'I Donít Care Anymore'. I have only been able to do that because I treated myself to a Bush turntable hifi system, which I spotted in the latest Argos catologue. Thatís a very cute record player with built-in amps, which is very portable and sounds wonderfully tinny and trebly like the old Dansettes of our dreams.

I love the idea that the big companies are investing in producing new models of record players for vinyl addicts who are not too bothered about the technical niceties and just want to enjoy the warmth of old and new vinyl. Iím not going to make a big thing of this. I have, after all, survived for over ten years without having anything in the house that properly plays vinyl. Itís really not bothered me. But itís been fun this week digging through my crates, and rediscovering some forgotten gems. Like? Like the Laugh 12Ēs, Scott Walker singing Joe Hill and sounding just like Paul Quinn, the Purple Heartsí Pop-ish Frenzy, Utís Early Live Life (and as some tracks date back to the start of the Ď80s you wonder why the post-punk texts have not made more of them as their racket is ruthless and peerless), my All Platinum compilations, Johnny Ray singing 'Look Homeward Angel', the old Kent LPs and especially the Patrice Holloway tracks, Biff Bang Pow! and The Girl Who Runs The Beat Hotel and the three contemporaneous 12Ēs, and best of all that Johnny Nash and Kim Weston LP. I really should frame the cover of that!

And Iíve not even got round to the singles yet. Iím not even sure I want to. I really donít want to go back down that road, and the rediscover the madness of searching for old 45s. I have exorcised my soul of days lost searching through the 10p boxes in the basement of Record and Tape Exchange and buying anything that looked vaguely like an old soul, funk or reggae 45. Just in case! Oh no, Iím not going back to that madness. Give me a nice reissue of Evie Sands or Lester Sands and Iím quite happy. Itís just nice to have the option again of playing that old Prats or Tapper Zukie 7Ē if the urge so takes you.

© 2005 John Carney