Gary Moore Blues Alive Rare Vinyl

Well helloooooooo there my fellow Rolling Rock Prophets! It’s been a while since I wrote a little something on my own music blog! Life happens all the time, and I’m busy with a few writing projects of my own that’s keeping me busy. I may or may not be trying to write a book. Who knows? But don’t tell anyone. You’ll be the first to know if it’s any good!

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So let’s get back into the groove with an extremely rare piece of wax I managed to get my hands on. It’s a collector’s item of note. Gary Moore’s 1993 Blues Alive released on the Virgin Records label. Yes, on vinyl. Back in the nineties? Apparently, many vinyl were pressed in those days. It’s news to me though. It was much, much rarer than now of course. Less people thought it was cool too. Blues Alive is a collection of live recordings taken from Gary Moore and the Midnight Blues Band’s 1992 tour (Europe, UK and USA) promoting his blues offerings Still got the Blues (1990) and After Hours (1992). The original 1993 pressing was a limited edition to begin with. Each vinyl was individually numbered. But what makes this one so rare? Well, the first batch of 10 000 vinyl were pressed incorrectly. To be more precise, the C side on Record 2 was double pressed. Yes that’s correct, the D side is totally missing in action. They also switched the A and B side on Record 1. Sounds like a bum deal, right? Well it is and it isn’t. Maybe in the days I had Obsessive Compulsive Vinyl Buying Disorder (OCVBD) it would have drove me nuts not be able to listen to the missing D side. I have vowed to look out for one that’s not a misprint though. So I’m not sure if I really managed to get my OCVBD under control? Hahaha! I’m not one to buy vinyl for “investment purposes” but the little mishap makes this little gem slightly more expensive than your average piece of wax. Go check out discogs for information on prices. Or go ask the two dealers responsible for the hole in my pocket. Simon Coetzee and Roger Jones.  https://www.facebook.com/simon.coetzee.5?fref=ts and https://www.facebook.com/roger.jones.944023?fref=ts20151011_142519

The music of Gary Moore has been part of my music listening experience for decades. I was thirteen years old when I discovered Wild Frontier (1987). I became friends with Gary Moore even before Led Zeppelin became my religion. I was introduced to the rock side of his music and loved the heavy stuff back in the eighties. Ok, ok I still do! I played Run for Cover (1985) and After the War (1989) on tape until both snapped and I had to fix them with sticky tape. I remember the music video for the song Out in the Fields alongside his friend Phil Lynott vividly. Strange that the video wasn’t banned back then? Two Irish fellows, one black and one white, dressed in military uniforms singing side by side about war. Someone at the SABC was not doing his job properly. Gary Moore moved on to the blues in the early nineties with his immaculate albums Still got the Blues (1990) and After Hours (1992). 

Gary Moore’s blues is the rough kind of blues. The kind you listen to when you need to take the edge off. Like the last big gulp of whiskey, when you just drank the whole bottle. Elaborate guitar riffs will kick your ass while you listen to his bluesy jams, complete with brass sections. What do you expect from an Irishmen, eh? His vocals was born and bred in rock arenas, but he could slow it down and feel the blues too. And man, he can still make you feel it. Just listen to Still got the Blues again. I was too much of a metal head to really get into the blues in the early nineties. I only started to appreciate his blues efforts somewhere in the mid to late-nineties. For the collector’s out there, it’s not easy getting his blues offerings on vinyl, not to mention cheap – but when you do, it’s like heaven on wax, through your speakers, into your the ears and slap bang into your heart! Rest in Peace Gary Moore!

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Die Mystic Boer saal weer op…..vir die vinyl junkies!

 

I normally write in English because I’m more comfortable with the language. No other reason. But today – on Freedom Day – I’m writing in both English and Afrikaans. A peaceful protest against those who think they own Afrikaans rock artists and have the right to threaten them just because they don’t support their way of thinking. Not in my name. Not in our name. Most of these artists just want to do what they do best. Entertain us!                

Valiant_1Lank, lank gelede “in ‘n ander, ander tyd” en in ‘n ander wêreld het my paaie gekruis met iets so magies dat dit my lewe onmiskenbaar verander het. Dit was ‘n koue reënerige dag iewers in Desember 1993 in Nature’s Valley. Ek was skaars sewentien. Van my boesemvriende het my voorgestel aan ‘n paar van hulle studentevriende. Grootmenskinders met volksvreemde idees en musieksmake. Dit was so reg in my kraal…..

My eerste besoek aan die weggesteekte klein vakansie dorpie naby Plettenbergbaai in die Wes-Kaap was uiteraard iets so reg uit ‘n jeugverhaal, maar met ‘n nineties twist. En die nineties was twisted….Die een bra se ouers het hulle garage omskep in ‘n ekstra buitekamer. Dit was perfek vir al sy gabbas wat eksotiese rookgewoontes gehad het. Die pad na die garage was mistig en eteries. Almal wat daar gechill het was baie “rustig” en “filosofies”…Ha! Na almal mekaar ontmoet het, steek ek ‘n Camel Filter aan. So half onhandig maar met ‘n cool wannabe houding. Iemand het intussen, so deur al die slim praatjies, ‘n kasset in die kassetspeler ingesit. Die garage was donker en die rook en reën het die hele ervaring ‘n mistieke Tolkien charm gegee.

Eldorado het begin speel en my aandag was heeltemaal afgetrek van die gesprekke – wat al hoe meer filosofies begin raak het. “Is dit Dire Straits?” vra ek asof ek Chris Prior is. “Dis Valiant Swart” word ek kalm reggehelp. As ek nou terugdink het alles net te veel sin gemaak. Die planete het op ‘n ongewone wyse inlyn beweeg. Ek het daai dag iets gehoor wat ek nooit sal vergeet nie. Die Mystic Boer demo. Dit was net te cool om Afrikaans te wees. Net daar en dan het ek ‘n “bluesboer” geword. En Jirre tot vandag “is die blues my bloedbroer”.

To explain the effect of Valiant Swart’s music on my generation, during those early years, to someone who never listened to the music with their friends, never debated the deeper meaning of the lyrics with Mary Jane and never saw him live….may be slightly difficult. But I’ll try my level best. The local Afrikaans ‘Nirvana’ generation were also beneficiaries of the Voëlvry movement. Because of these pioneers we could – for the first time and very comfortably – call ourselves alternative Afrikaners. It gave us our own identity. A breakaway from our dark past and made it easier to connect with different races and to make black friends. But we certainly weren’t spoiled for choice in that genre. We played poor sounding cassettes recorded on a shoestring budget by artists such as Koos Kombuis and Valiant Swart. Johannes Kerkorrel released CD’s already in the early nineties, and some of us may have ventured into the past and had a taste for well known Afrikaans recording artists such as Anton Goosen and David Kramer. Valiant Swart appeared on the scene out of nowhere and we embraced his music as mystical rock and roll poetry. Unlike many other alternative Afrikaans artists his music wasn’t political at all. Musically his early stuff made me think of a cross between Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones and Dire Straits. A blend of blues, folk and country rock. But it was in Afrikaans and it was distinctively South African. His harmonica and some of the riffs sound like Africanised boeremusiek on those early recordings. This kind of music was a strange thing to hear in 1993, let me tell you. Those of us who “got it” back in the day became lifelong fans and we never stopped listening.

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Die Mystic Boer demo was ‘n opname wat Valiant by sy gigs verkoop het in die vroeë negentigs. Slegs vier van die songs op die demo kasset was ingesluit in die 1996 Die Mystic Boer album(of CD): Eldorado, Die Mystic Boer,Ware Liefde en Slangdans. Die res was later opgeneem op Kopskoot en Boland Punk. Behalwe een song. En hier is vir julle bietjie blues lore. Een van my gunsteling Valiant songs is Bloed (Die wind waai waarskynlik in Worcester) wat nooit offisieël opgeneem is op ‘n album nie. Ek het Valiant dit laas in 1999 live hoor speel.

Jis, ons het daai kasset faktap geluister vir meer as drie jaar en dit was op die speellys by elke party. Toe Die Mystic Boer op CD uitgereik is was ons hardcore fans redelik skepties. Audiophiles kla vandag oor die klank van die CD maar vir ons was daai album se klank TE goed. Ons was so gewoond aan die swak klank kwaliteit van die demo, Valiant se Boland aksent en Anton L’ Amour se distinct riffs dat dit ‘n ruk gevat het om gewoond te raak aan die Mystic Boer CD. En ek bedoel nie die CD was musikaal minder awesome nie. Dit was next level. Ons was net te gewoond aan die demo. Dit was helemaal anders. Maar dit was nie lank nie of die CD was deel van ons studentelewens en is kliphard gespeel in al wie ‘n fan was se motor. Net op CD spelers in plaas van kassetspelers natuurlik. Dit was steeds agtergrond musiek vir filosofiese gesprekke in mistieke rookgevulde kamers….

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So fast forward to 2014. Great Afrikaans rock music is still hard to find if you’re a music collector. You certainly won’t find it on the radio or television that’s for damn sure. Very few CD shops stock these gems and it’s even difficult (sometimes impossible) to find CD’s of new local bands on the internet. You can find the CD’s at gigs and download the artists’ music on the internet (iTunes etc). But try to find the old stuff and you’ll have to approach the online second hand market. Unfortunately, you may or may not find what you’re looking for.

And then there are those who exist almost exclusively for the black circle heroin. They are a breed of their own. I like to call them vinyl junkies (I’m not one of them, I assure you). Benjy Mudie – in all probability – coined the phrase but I can’t think of any better way to describe them. They all have fucking “dragon sickness”. By now you can tell I love Tolkien…but I digress. Who would have thought that vinyl would make so many people happy (again) in this day and age? The creators of Beyond 2000 must be scratching their heads in amazement. ‘Die Mystic Boer’ on vinyl for the first time? Almost two decades after its original release? Who’s crazy idea was that? Vinyl junkies (I’m not one, I swear) can thank the dudes at Cow Africa Advertising Agency. They were joking around with the idea one day and before they knew it, it became a reality. Donald Swanepoel (Deluxe 3000) and Charles Miller (Chopper Charlie) created the record label ‘Verspeelde Lente’ under which name The Mystic Boer vinyl was pressed. I remember Charles from Varsity and a legendary place called Shaft where creatures of the night drank their beer and got their kicks. But these dudes are more wellknown these days for being part of creating the website WAT KYK JY? If you haven’t heard of it you need to get a life.

Rouleaux Van der Merwe (vinyl junkies will know him from Permanent Record) worked with Valiant to redesign the artwork and included some real vintage photos on the inner sleeve. Jeez, I love the fact that there’s lyrics on it. You can slide it out and get nostalgic and totally lose yourself in the words while the black heroin spins. Is dit net ek of was hulle idee glad nie tos nie? Drum roll…crickets in the night. Anyway, Valiant Swart got on board and the rest is history.

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Man, passion projects are the shit! It makes you forget about the cold hard reality of the music industry for a while. Something I don’t even want to be part of. I discussed the whole vinyl resurgence with Valiant at a recent gig at the Cockpit Brewhouse in Cullinan and it’s clear to me that he loves the format. I mean the man loves music first and foremost. But he gets the difference in sound, the sentiment and the ritual. Thank the rock and roll gods he’s not a vinyl junkie. We all know he would never get to writing a single song if that was the case. But what is his favourite music on vinyl? Rolling Stones of course. Sitting down with his son Robert and taking in the good stuff!

Here’s some more blues lore. There’s no pressing plant in SA anymore so the vinyl was pressed and the cover and inner sleeve printed in the UK. But there was a misprint on the inner sleeve in respect of the lyrics. Maybe because it’s in Afrikaans? Who knows? But only one or two people have a copy of the misprinted vinyl. And the serious collectors are going insane right about now…

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I’ve been listening to the demo for almost 22 years. I’ve been listening to 1996 CD for 19 years (give or take), so my opinion on the sound may be seriously prejudiced. I’m not an audiophile but according to Valiant Swart the album was recorded with analog equipment by Willem Möller (Gereformeerde Blues Band,Big Sky and Searching for Sugarman) in 1995. ‘Verspeelde Lente’ did not remaster the tapes but certain sound levels were adjusted to improve the sound. Just so the audiophiles wouldn’t loose their shit. But it sounds great to me. What do I know anyway? I do know that if you want a copy you better move fast. Only five hundred were pressed. And if the vinyl sells well,Valiant may consider pressing ‘Dorpstraat Revisited’ next. Now there’s an album that is just begging to be pressed on vinyl……

In 1993 in daai donker mistieke garage het een van die wyse studente iets kwytgeraak wat my altyd sal bybly. Op die demo was Die Mystic Boer die tweede song op die kasset- net na Eldorado. Terwyl die song gespeel het en na diep bepeinsing het iemand uit die bloute gevra: “Ek wonder hoe Valiant geweet het dat die grond na sout gesmaak het?”. Dit was iets wat my gepla het vir bykans twee dekades. Ek het Valiant onlangs daaroor uitgevra by Cockpit Brewhouse en ons het lekker gelag. Hy kon my nie antwoord nie. Dit is obvious dat baie van sy lirieke beslis nie letterlik opgeneem moet word nie. Die mistiek van songs soos Die Mystic Boer sal altyd behoue bly want nie eens Valiant weet waar die lirieke vandaan kom nie. Hy sê dit baie, maar ek kon dit nog nooit helemaal verstaan nie. Die musiek en woorde bestaan voor hy dit skryf en “float rond in die lug”. Ek reken Die Mystic Boer het net die gawe om die songs te vang en vir ons op te tower sodat ons dit kan verstaan. So elkeen op ons eie manier.

Dankie Valiant en almal wat deel was van die projek!

 

Vir verdere navrae kontak Rouleaux van der Merwe by info@permanentrecord.co.za.

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Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti 40th Anniversary Edition on 180g Vinyl

 

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My first blog post with two of my favourite things in this world as subject matter. Led Zeppelin and vinyl. How on earth am I going to keep this short and to the point? Not to worry. To limit my obsessive old school rants and to embrace today’s modern commercial music I have arranged with Mr Vinyl, without a doubt the most professional online vinyl store in the business, to sponsor a few black circles now and then. The only problem is that I have free reign to choose the artists (*drum roll and the sound of crickets at night* ). Who am I kidding? It may only help to invoke my inner analogue muse. My first choice had to be Led Zep. Not just any album but the iconic Physical Graffiti, their sixth studio album, released on 24 February 1975. In 2014 the band launched an extensive reissue program of all nine its studio albums, each remastered by Jimmy Page. They also decided to open their vaults and share dozens of unheard studio live recordings. The remastered version of Physical Graffiti was released last month on the 40th anniversary of its release.

Before I drill down into specifics, its only fitting that I explain my love for the band first. Led Zep was a constant throughout my life and now I guess it’s my fountain of youth. Of course this is true of music in general, but Led Zep is different somehow. It embodies the memory of magical days, the past and present friends I hold dear, the women I fell in and out of love with, the good times, the heartache and the disappointments. The magic endures, especially when I visit the familiar places of yesteryear. Urban jungle or seaside drive, West Coast holiday town or desolate road – with Led Zep in the background, a trip becomes a journey. I don’t hear old seventies music. I hear a force majeure – the celebration of opposites and synergies. Mysticism, love, chaos, freedom, sexual bravado and brotherhood. It’s a kind of explosive transcendence guided by thundering drums, groovin’ bass lines, howling vocals and raunchy geeetar. I know its a great day when I listen to Led Zep and it sounds new and fresh to me. Even more so when I take one of their records out of its cover, slide it slowly out of the inner sleeve, place it on the platter,watch it spin for a while before the needle gently hits the record….and instantly I’m immersed in music…space and time…just… disappear.

20150303_193321In the nineties Gen X’s portal to the world of Led Zep was mainly through the Remasters Double CD released in 1990 (the mastering was also supervised by Jimmy Page). At every party in high school this CD was in the stack next to the CD player. I also remember watching the film The Song Remains The Same on video in the wee drunken hours while discussing politics,religion and other weird topics with friends. But very few Gen X kids collected entire discographies of bands. I remember Led Zep I-IV being on sale for R40 a CD at local music stores. For most of us this limited exposure was sufficient to call ourselves fans. Of course when MP3’s invaded the scene in the previous decade I downloaded more albums – but still not to the point of consciously wanting to absorb everything they’ve ever recorded. No, this was a fate bestowed upon me just over a year and a half ago when I became a vinyl addict. I have most of the studio albums in older press format – but sadly not this one yet. With the increase in vinyl collectors the past few years they’ve become hard to find.

20150303_202258 In 1973, after a year of touring around the world in their private jet, living it up in excess with groupies and copious amounts of drugs, Led Zep began recording ‘Physical Graffiti’ at Headly Grange in East Hampshire. However, it was brought to an abrupt halt. John Paul Jones needed some downtime. The constant touring and ‘living on the edge’ lifestyle took its toll on Jones and his family. So the band went their separate ways for a while. The renewed creative ideas that led to the recording of the album were born out of three months of downtime and soul searching.

Led Zep wrote eight new songs for the album but it was too long for the typical length of a single LP. ‘In My Time of Dying’ and ‘Kashmir’ may have been the culprits. The former was first recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in 1927 but “reinterpreted” by Led Zep. It’s an extremely haunting blues version and just over eleven minutes long. The arabesque and mystical anthem ‘Kashmir’, in turn, is just over eight minutes long and took almost three years to complete. It’s one of their most successful musical statements ever. From a modern perspective, the freedom they enjoyed to record albums sound almost made up – but it’s how they did things back then. The band decided to make ‘Physical Graffiti’ a double album by including unreleased outtakes from earlier recording sessions. No doubt this album is the last of the epic Led Zep studio albums. Before the entire empire began to unravel. If you don’t know the history you can start by reading ‘Trampled under Foot’ written by Barney Hoskyns. I promised to keep it short so I’m moving on.

20150303_193120The rest of the “new songs” like ‘Custard Pie’, ‘In the Light’ and ‘Trampled under Foot’, for instance, are all great songs but in my view the inclusion of the outtakes of previous albums in ‘Physical Graffiti’ led to its ultimate success. Jimmy Page admitted this in several interviews. The album represents quite a few years of creative development – a mix of blues,bluegrass, country, rock, reggae and middle eastern influences. It almost sounds like a greatest hits album. And this is how Gen X got to know Led Zep – diverse and already fully developed. My favourites are the outtakes from their 1973 album, ‘Houses of the Holy’. The title track intentionally left out to be used on the ‘Physical Graffiti’ album is pure classic Led Zep. The acoustic blues song ‘Black Country Woman’ was recorded outdoors in Mick Jagger’s garden – the recording engineer accidentally recorded an airplane flying overhead and you can hear Robert Plant laughing and saying “nah leave it”.Sigh…Artistic Freedom. And then ‘the Rover’, one of those typical wandering free spirit Led Zep tunes, with insane drumming and a killer riff.

The first thing people ask you when they hear you collect and listen to vinyl is“do they still make them?”. Oh yes, and boy do they still make them. I am a fan of the older pressings but when you’re looking for new music or you absolutely love a band (or many of them) or you struggle to find the older pressings, the “new” 180g pressings can give you just as much listening pleasure. There is a whole debate around which of these sound better. In laymen’s terms the “new” 180g vinyl is thicker and heavier then the older 120-140g pressings and it’s less prone to become warped over time. One would think that the new pressings would always sound better but that’s not always the case. The sound quality really depends on the original recording, the mastering and how the record was pressed. Of course the manner in which you looked after an older pressing over the years makes the world of difference.

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The 40th Anniversary Edition of Physical Graffiti was released in three editions:

  • The 2 LP Normal Edition replicating the original album,
  • The 3 LP (Deluxe Edition) containing the original LPs plus one vinyl containing unreleased studio outtakes.
  • And then for the serious collector the Super Deluxe Edition Box Set complete with the three LPs mentioned above, three CDs and a hardcopy book.

I play tested the normal edition remaster – what a joy it was opening the album jacket. It looks exactly like the original, consisting of the outer cover, two inner sleeves and a middle insert cover. The inner sleeves has various objects and people on each window. The middle insert cover is white with details of the album track listings and recording info. The windows on the outer cover is cut out, so when the middle cover is wrapped around the two inner sleeves and inserted into the outer cover, the title of the album Physical Graffiti becomes visible. I absolutely love this kind of artwork. It makes me feel like a kid in a candy store while unwrapping Christmas presents.

I may not be the ultimate audiophile but this album sounds superb on my system. I also have Led Zep I and II of this remastered series and its really mastered and pressed with quality in mind. In good time I will include most of the 3LP Deluxe versions in my collection as well.

If you learn to pace yourself collecting vinyl is the best hobby in the world. If only I can figure out how…….

If you want more detail check out the Mr Vinyl website: http://http://www.mrvinyl.co.za/shop/preorder-led-zeppelin-physical-graffiti-2015-remaster/

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