Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Jan-Feb Contents Bear Family have done it yet again. They’ve followed up their
comprehensive Chuck Berry box set with a Jerry Lee Lewis
companion. Titled Jerry Lee Lewis At Sun Record, The Collected
Works, it offers 17 CDs in a bound folder with two hard bound
books of information and photographs. The goal was to gather every
“authentic, original” recording made at Sun Records featuring Jerry
Lee Lewis. As the accompanying book explains, “a straightforward,
sonic encyclopaedia of every traceable note he sang and played
at SUN, just as they were electronically etched onto magnetic tape
between November 1956 and August 1963.”
It’s a completist’s/fanatic’s collection to be sure – do you really need
to sit through 10 takes of ‘I’m Feeling Sorry’ or 22 takes of ‘High
School Confidential’? Probably not, but it really is the closest thing
to being a fly on the wall in those hallowed studios back when rock
‘n’ roll was being invented, helping you to understand Sam Phillips’ vision. The vivacity of nearly every session is
palpable, as if the whole room were alive and a part of the music.
The first discs are presented in chronological order before two discs of stereo mixes and another disc of
‘Re-engineered tracks’. It’s a great collection to throw in the disc changer while you’re working, absorbing how
the great partnership of Jerry Lee and Sam Phillips evolved and conjured some of the most vital rock recordings
of all time. And the books of biographical and anecdotal information and photographs
make the package more like a work of art than a mere box set.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new(ish) player in the vintage reissue game –
Australian company Blank Records. Picking up a line in the vinyl reissue of lost/
overlooked Australian gems, including a trio of John Sangster’s first albums.
Here for review we have his first two, 1967’s The Trip and ‘68’s The Joker Is Wild, both
swinging instrumental albums with Sangster focusing on, but certainly not limiting
himself to, vibes and percussion, and taking on everything from Bond themes to ‘Mr
Tambourine Man’ and ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ to ‘A Day In The Life’ and ‘Michelle’.
Swaying in a unique territory somewhere between hip, serious jazz, and Demtel
cheese, it’s hard to imagine what kinda audience these were originally aimed at.
Certainly, the pseudo-trippy Sangster in Terminator black sunglasses on the cover of
The Trip would have frightened off anyone left of open-minded. If you’re curious about
what the ‘60s were like in Australia (or maybe you were there and can’t remember),
here’s a fascinating wormhole.
Skip forward a couple of years and we’re into the ‘70s with a ‘60s hangover. Although
we could be in 2014 – Carrl & Janie Myriad would not look at all out of place at
Splendour In The Grass, all hirsute and denim, a little bit of Peter, Paul and Mary, a little
bit of The Byrds. Here we have their debut record, Of All The Wounded
People, all peace, love and mung beans but with a swinging country rock
edge thanks to a crack band that included the Dingoes’ Kerryn Tolhurst.
The next one has a personal connection – I recently got to tour with Andrew Kidman through the
USA and witness the enduring affection for the music from his early surf films Litmus and Glass
Love. So it’s gratifying to see them reissued by US label Anthology Recordings. Presented in a
spectacular 20th Anniversary box set, both soundtracks have been remastered to high quality vinyl
and have never sounded better. Indeed, if you’re a fan of either or both of these works, you’ll hear
them in a whole new light through a good sound system.
The Litmus disc contains soundbites from the film as well as music by Yothu Yindi (‘Gapu’),
Galaxie 500 (the exquisite ‘Listen, The Snow Is Falling’), Tom Curren, Rosie Sutherland and
others, with half a dozen tracks by Kidman’s own rag-tag band The Val Dusty Experiment.
Some of these tongue-in-cheek Val Dusty songs – ‘Cow’, ‘Green Hornet’, etc – have gone
down in folklore for their unselfconscious charm.
By the time he made Glass Love, Kidman had another ten years of playing music under
his belt, and a significantly more focused musical direction. Recorded with guitarist/
producer Brad Thompson, it’s a beautiful set of measured songs, resounding with space
and tasteful playing. Performed entirely by Kidman and a band featuring Thompson,
Chris Pellen, Milton Brown, Rory McKenzie and Ross Grierson, the material is mostly
Kidman’s own with an acoustic guitar singer-songwriter focus. There are also
versions of Dylan’s ‘Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind’ and a traditional, ‘Moonshiner’.
There’s also a 100 page book with lush colour photos and quotes from both films,
making for a unique Chrissie present for the surfer in your life.
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