Ashwoods RIP. The end of an era. I stood there stunned, then took this photo. July 2003.
yes, record stores. I recall my Saturday morning pilgrimage into
had their one-dollar bin where deleted obscurities could be found. Me, I was
more interested in catching up on stuff I'd missed when it had been released,
the record condition was not a major factor and most Saturdays I would come home
aglow with yet another rarity being recovered, and adding to the glow, a bargain
to boot. And some of these had been booted and frisbeed, barely a groove for the
needle to travel. But I loved 'em all and still do and they love me.
Chuck Berry's Chess hits, the original in the blue cover? A bit scratched, but
that's how it should be, the price in pencil on the disc label
- 75 cents!! I bought the Chess 3 CD box set later and thought the CD
sound too clean, the remix with the voice marginally to the fore seemed to have
lost some power. By comparison the LP production has more of Leonard Chess' big
bed of sound, I guess it's who does the remix.
Other Chess remixes, Howlin Wolf, Muddy, Walter and Sonny Boy, are pretty
vinyl can still be bought if that's your medium, and perhaps for 75c at St
Vinnies or those country antique stores. I remember when I took my son Brendan
to a collectibles fair a few years back, him for the comics and me to check out
the LPs and CDs, soul sustenance, and there were obscurities available
everywhere - a sighting of the Wilmoth Houdini compilation from the States was
enough to warm the heart. I didn't buy it; to know that it was available was
stood next to two blokes who were discussing the finer points of jukeboxes from
the early sixties "no ..1960.. the Princess - not the one with the wings -
shit I've nailed that - no the one
with the pink chrome escutcheon on the corners -I'm fixing up thirteen at the
counter salesman was discussing Junior Parker with a bloke who'd just purchased
a couple of Junior's LPs from another table. I listened with interest because
I have some JP and I like his recordings but these guys didn't mention his music
once but the recording labels in Junior's long ephemeral career dripped off
their tongues like the fat off so much collectible recorded bacon. Music? The
salesman asked "D'yer ever play 'em?" "Yeah, I might put 'em on
sometimes, otherwise there'd be no point in buyin' 'em......"
are a strange breed - humans probably. I guess we're all collectors in our own
way. Hunters are hungry collectors. Some people collect memories, some collect
ideas, some collect definitions or information in order to define. Some collect
more tangibles in order to be definite. Yer human likes to bang things into
boxes, sorted. The reason for being? Sorted. Even chaos must be defined by those
who feel that chaos is the definitive of the human condition. Some may be
totally satisfied by a sighting of the
rare greater spotted wandering egret which is definitive in it's way, others by
the complete recordings of Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake, Wilmoth Houdini, Red Hot
Ole Man Moses, or Buddy Holly which is an essence of perfection, once achieved.
Buddy is dead. No doubt about it. Well for 99.9 percent of the world's rockologists. If he does live he's walking around bumping into Elvis at Hungry Jacks cos McCartney owns his specs. Some would prefer to believe it, and good luck to them. So to collect his complete recorded output given that he didn't record beyond
thought I had it. Perfection, the complete remastered recordings in one
definitive set. I bought it and that's what it said. But I'd read the Goldorosen
biography which had quoted his drummer Jerry Allison saying that Buddy's
overdubbed versions of the '56 recordings, prior to the Decca recordings were a
travesty of his music. And were the original undubberied versions in the set?
Not on your life me old son.
important element of collectivity is it's elusiveness. If it's not elusive it
holds no value and no relief. Relief is a huge thing in a collector's ambition.
Relief from the all encompassing need to be whole. A passion not merely to own,
but to hug, sleep with and spiritually in most cases, graft the ephemeral item
to parts of one's.. being.....
two years I slept fitfully knowing that somewhere some bugger had ears that were
able to hear the undubbed versions of the songs which I ached with every part of
my consciousness to hear. I didn't want the specs which McCartney owned - I
wanted to hear Buddy's soul. I thought of writing to his mum and actually
started a letter one night after a couple of beers...Dear Mrs Holley, ....it's
as far as I got. I wondered did the ex Beatle put the goggles on occasionally
and say philosophically to Linda "Hey man, Buddy watched the lights turn
upside down through these, seconds before they went out..." Probably did,
interesting and creepy story. Goldorosen in his biography states that Buddy used
to fly light planes. The plane in which he, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens
crashed to earth in the snowstorm was equipped with a new type of altimeter. One
which registered the height of the craft in the reverse way to the standard type
of plane which Buddy was used to flying. He was seated next to the pilot.
Goldorosen just mentions it, off handedly.
Saturday morning wanderings through the denizens of lower Pitt Street, and just
remembering now - I used to take my daughter Cara there in her stroller ( Sat.
morning babysitting task), where in
the bump and bustle of the smoky confines (as it was then), one remained alert
to the proclivities of the patrons, some of whom were more freeform in their
expression than one would hope for [
"you took me there Dad ???" ] -
I saw in Lawson's window, I can see it there now, vividly, Buddy Holly
For The First time Anywhere Previously Unreleased Recordings, and my heart went
DUH DUH DUHDUH DE DE DUH DUH DUH - Bo Diddley. One of the undubbed original
tracks. It was there. On it. And the rest. The undubbed stuff. NIRBLOODYVARNA. I
remember driving home, there it was in glory sitting on the passengers seat with
my coat covering most of it so that the sun wouldn't warp. Home now. Put it on
the turntable. Bo Diddley was taped from a very scratched acetate but I could
hear it...the way it had sounded back in '56 when Buddy and Jerry had played it
at the ice rink soc hop. It was pretty ordinary. Jerry was a wanker. They'd
overdubbed it for an obvious reason. But I'm sated now. I've got all that is
worth hearing, and more. Now....yer Wilmoth Houdini...
Since this piece was written back in the 90s, Impact Records here in Canberra has sadly closed down. The slack has been taken up to some extent by JBs, but the whole music industry has undergone a revolution with the advent of the IPOD. Tracks can be purchased over the web, zoom in from the ether from many sources - you can reach just about anything. Back in the vinyl days the ownership of a rare LP or single would provide a glow which lasted until someone else managed to find it. These days it's all out there, and in excellent sonic format. The industry has perfected the remastered quality, in fact the Buddy Holly track mentioned above 'Bo Diddley' was released in 2007/8 on two CDs 'Ohh! Annie!' and ''Hollybilly' issued by companies which appear to have found access to very rare tapes, Lubbock sessions including the garage recordings, Clovis recordings and Decca's Nashville recordings. Two versions of 'Bo Diddley' are on each, both vastly superior to the acetate version. Jerry wasn't a wanker at all, however my view is that the recording did benefit from the additional lead. Check out my review of 'Ohh! Annie! on Amazon.
Roots music aficionados like yourself will always want to own the official release replete with liner notes, photos and recording information - who played on what track, dates etc. Despite IPOD downloads there will always be a market for CDs, and I note the LP is having a resurgence. So, if you happen to be travelling south on the Princes Highway, past Batemans Bay you will come to the hamlet of Mogo. The first shop on the right upstairs is a roots goldmine called 'Raw Art and Blues' owned by the lovely Steve Fox. Steve loves a chat and you won't find a better collection of raw art and roots music outside the capital cities. Do yourself a favour and check it out!!