Love Makes The World Go Round
Shop Around … pt 33
Reader, it finally dropped through my door. After years of wishing and hoping, it’s finally here. Some of the best recordings ever, seemingly long lost and forgotten, are finally available on a CD. And I’ve been playing that CD all week.

Yup, Kiki Dee’s recordings for Tamla Motown are back in circulation. They are collated on a set called Love Makes The World Go Round, which is available through Spectrum at wonderfully ridiculously cheap prices, rather like the Val Simpson set earlier this year. And like that Val Simpson set, if you don’t treat yourself to this absolutely wonderful salvaged set you might just about curl up and become a dried up fossil folks.

Kiki was invited to record for Tamla Motown at the end of the ‘60s, after a series of stunning soulful 45s were studiously ignored by too many people here. Those ‘60s sides remain frustratingly unavailable on CD for some absurd reason, though if you’re in a charity shop and see an old video of Doctor In Clover then snap it up as Kiki is all over the soundtrack. And it’s wonderfully funny and will have you brushing up on your Leslie Phillips impersonations in no time. Or better still catch Kiki in Dateline Diamonds, a daft robbery caper, where she sings for us and smoulders spectacularly in a trenchcoat. The film also has some wonderfully spotty Small Faces doing their thing.

So after that string of special singles the absolutely gorgeous Kiki was invited to record for Tamla Motown. In theory that was perfect. The only trouble was that the soul fans in the UK liked their authenticity, and Kiki was very white and out-of-place and out-of-order to those buffoons. So despite Tamla putting together Kiki with the best of its writers and arrangers, and producing the exquisite Great Expectations set, the pot of gold was not there at the rainbow’s end. It would be a few more years afore Kiki enjoyed Elton John-sponsored success.

It was on the back of that mid-70s success that Kiki’s Tamla recordings were repackaged and reissued by the budget Sounds Superb label, itself an offshoot of the budget Music For Pleasure imprint. They replaced the stunning Tamla sleeve with a contemporary shot of Kiki, added a couple of gems as compensation, and you’d see it around for years for next-to-nothing. In particular it brought no end of joy to a new generation of slightly-less-purist soul fans, a new generation of mods, oddballs discovering the joys of ‘60s Brit girls’ sounds, and so on. Ironically for Kiki it is another budget label that has salvaged these recordings again, but they have done a great job. Indeed they’ve even added four unreleased recordings from the Tamla Motown vaults. Hopefully now Kiki will get credit for giving us such aesthetically perfect pop as 'The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday', 'Johnny Raven', 'Love Is A Warm Kind of Sorrow'. Pop doesn’t get any better.
Except perhaps the pop that’s on The Glasgow School that is. Yup, Orange Juice’s recordings for Postcard Records are back in circulation, thanks to Domino. I popped into the Rough Trade shop in Covent Garden the other afternoon, the first time I had been in there for ages, and the Orange Juice compilation was being played. It was a very strange feeling. This was very much the soundtrack of my youth, and the kids behind the counter probably weren’t even born when these recordings were made. It would be lovely to know what impact these magical sounds are having all over again on young impressionable minds.

Despite certain quibbles that this set comes sans the complete OJs’ Peel sessions and Felicity flexi, it should be widely celebrated that the packaging and context is pretty much spot-on. Perhaps the Postcard aspect is underplayed a tad, but then I guess Alan Horne is guilty for keeping such a low profile nowadays. Though God bless him for doing so, and keeping the mystery caged, as we used to say.

It’s worth reiterating though that it was the wider Postcard context that really counted, with the balance between the OJs and Josef K, and the subversive dandified wit and rancour. Amusingly I see much of the same punky spirit reflected in The Chap Manifesto which I picked up in the charity shop today but very few other places alas.

Quite a bit is made of the OJs eclecticism and diverse influences, which supposedly was out-of-step with their punk peers. This may come as something of a surprise to Messrs Lydon and Wobble, Strummer and Jones, and indeed Postcard’s own patron saint Vic Godard, but I know what they mean.

Biased as I am it is still Godard’s influence you can sense over the Postcard recordings. The deliberate step away from rock rules was very much down to the Subway Sect school for scoundrels. You know, more Noel Coward than Neil Young. And it is easy to depict the OJs’ Edwyn Collins and James Kirk as another incarnation of Subway Sect’s Vic Godard and Rob Simmons when you start thinking about the wonderful coolness and then who sacked whom and what possibly could have been.

I am getting side tracked though. If we are to say that Orange Juice profited from ignoring Bob Dylan’s advice to don’t look back, then it’s worth remembering what was available to look to. There really wasn’t the choice there is now in terms of salvaged art. In fact it was the budget labels like Music For Pleasure that helped open up new vistas beyond the here and now. Often these cheap compilations were cash-ins, and focused on the days before artists were famous, and were often more fun therefore than the better-selling material. Like the Kiki Dee one we’ve already celebrated.

Elsewhere you had absolute gems like Pink Floyd’s Relics which collected some early singles and oddities, a great Lee Hazlewood set, some early Bob Marley, a lovely Bobby Gentry collection, the Strawbs with Sandy Denny (pre-Fairports), Animals, Mamas and Papas, some country, and so on. These records provided the source material for many a skewed musical education.

Besides the ubiquitous TV advertised K-Tel compilations, there were occasional other sets, like the Golden Hour of LPs (Kinks, Francoise Hardy, and so on), and the Pye File Series, which brought together more Kinks, Donovan, some classic old soul (like Ray Pollard’s The Drifter), and the Lovin’ Spoonful. For many people the latter set was the introduction to the wonders of 'Do You Believe In Magic?' and John Sebastian’s autoharp. The sleevenotes (John Tobler I seem to recall) of that Lovin’ Spoonful compilation averred that 'Do You Believe In Magic?' and the Showmen’s 'It Will Stand' (then covered by Jonathan Richman to wonderful effect) were THE rock’n’roll anthems. It seemed only natural that the lyrics to both of these would be included in the Postcard brochure from 1981. To me that brochure was like some sacred scripture. At 17 I could quote every last word of it.

The brochure was produced shortly before Orange Juice went with Polydor, and something happened somehow. The recordings rescued by Domino evolved into You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, with the assistance of Adam Kidron, and opinion is still split on whether this was a good thing or not. There is an irony that the original raw independent blueprints are now more available than the major label slickness.

I desperately hope the issue of The Glasgow School does not result in a rash of Orange Juice clones. That would totally miss the point. Orange Juice now would probably be into Kanye West, Girls Aloud, and Galaxie 500. They would probably be talking about Wilko Johnson and reggaeton. Actually that reminds me, is the Adam Kidron who heads Urban Box Office and is very active in promoting reggaeton the same Adam Kidron who was pretty much the in-house producer for Rough Trade at the start of the ‘80s? And if he is, what happened in the interim? That’s got to be a great story.

© 2005 John Carney