This is the perfect time of year for bargain hunters, with the sales season in full swing. But bargains are available all year round, and this column is dedicated to tracking them down.
I donít know if you are aware of the Hip-o-Select set-up. It seems to be a designer boutique salvage imprint owned by the Universal group, making available an odd assortment of reissues online only in limited editions. I guess itís modelled on the Rhino Handmade series, and so naturally the salvaged items are not cheap.
I have, however, indulged. The Lee Perry produced George Faith To Be A Lover set is exquisite, and the Motown magic of the Stevie Wonder produced Syreeta sets (both LPs on one beautifully packaged CD) highlight early Ď70s soul at its best. And Syreeta is another loss to us this blighted year, making the exclusivity of her salvaged recordings slightly sadder still.
By stark contrast the two Valerie Simpson Tamla sets from the same era have just been reissued on a Spectrum CD, the clearance house of odds and ends Universal runs where if you rummage around all sorts of gems can be found. The Valerie Simpson collection, for instance, can be found online at Amazon brand new for £3.99, and itís an absolute must.
Valerie, with husband Nickolas Ashford, of course wrote all sorts of soul greats, but her own recordings are up there with the best. What worries me is spectacular salvage operations like this (and it is well packaged, with great liner notes by Valerie herself) slipping through the net. As low an opinion as we may have about the music press, it does at least draw attention to this sort of salvaged gem. And for the Valerie Simpson one credit is due to Lois Wilson for an enthusiastic piece in Record Collector.
Full marks too for Matthew Collin in the January edition of Mojo for making the Touchiní Bass collection, Nobodyís Perfect, the dance record of the month. In an ideal world Touchiní Bassí spiritual leader would get the front page and full feature treatment, but at least Collin states she ďhas been prowling the radical fringes of the London electronic dance scene for around a decadeĒ. And we have frustratingly little to show for it, apart from her MoíWax Kiss My Arp classic, the K7 mix CD, and the Dark Ages set from a few years back.
Over the past few weeks my most played record has been the I Want Some collection of assorted Make Up singles. Itís infinitely cool, and re-imagines beat/soul/punk as something to spark a revolution and fire the imagination. In the same way Parkerís perseverance with her chosen music reinvigorates the potential for electro(nic) pioneering. She has been plugging away with Touchiní Bass, releasing music that is uncompromising and uplifting in the way, say, early Warp releases were. Itís timeless and terrific. This CD collects together tracks from the labelís first ten releases, several of them emanating from Parker and longtime comrade David Morley thankfully, and itís a spectacular soundtrack for the modern dance. What Matthew Collin neglects to mention in his review is that the CD is available for less than £6. So you get an hourís worth of spine tingling, deep, dark sounds that gel together perfectly for a relatively small sum. Itís got to be worth shopping around for!
© 2005 John Carney