What a great thing a good record shop is!! A great record shop can be terrific for so many reasons can’t it?. If it’s well stocked you can often find that elusive item across all genres and across all price ranges – be it that high priced collectable, the mid priced album to fill a gap or replace one in poorer condition or I’m delighted to say an unknown album that looks interesting, is not a highly collectable and is in the low priced section. With the last mentioned you can still afford to take a chance and so often be happily surprised at the result.
So can I think of examples of the latter in my own collection? You bet I can! Here are three albums that I have taken a chance on without knowing too much (if anything) about them and paid a fiver or less for each.
Omaha Sheriff – Come Hell Or Waters High – (Good Earth GDS803) 1977
Seen this on more than one occasion and what a fine album it is. A varied collection of rock and ballads with time changes galore. Vocalist Paul Muggleton (Judy Tzuke’s other half and producer of a number of her albums) has a distictive delivery which adds to the uniqueness of the album. The opener Quiet Please is particularly strong but all tracks are so interesting in different ways the listener surely could not be disappointed. It was produced by Tony Visconti who also plays bass throughout. The band lifted two singles from the album with two non LP B sides of which Goodbye Cousin Sam is a particularly pleasant ballad.
Duncan Browne – Streets Of Fire – (Logo 1016) 1979
More well known are Browne’s earlier two albums which were also highly thought of but after a period off the radar albeit still busy he returned with two albums from 78 and 79 which seem not to have registered – but hey discerning listeners – give them a spin! Both still appear cheaply but this one just edges it for me. Here is a terrific singer and outstanding guitarist aided and abetted by one of the great bass players in John Giblin and superb drummer Simon Phillips plus the excellent Tony Hymas on keyboards. Here you will savour some mesmerising guitar work from Browne with the album having a distinctly Spanish feel to it. All tracks are self written and include the brilliant Fauvette (looks French to me!) which opens the album along with such gems as American Heartbeat and the instrumental Streets Of Fire. The other album The Wild Places is almost equally as good so snap up either (or both) for a listening treat.
My third choice is another from the period just after the punk explosion which in itself could be a reason for these albums having been largely ignored (rather than other reasons that you might be thinking of Steve).
Alan Ross – Are You Free On Saturday – (Ebony 1000) 1977
Ross is no mean guitarist and had previously knocked out two albums with his cryptically named band Ross along with a couple of others namely Ro-Ro and Stars. Like Duncan Browne he re-emerged after a quiet spell with two albums that caused little stir at the time but to my mind merit a listen. This is the first and is again one found quite cheaply still. On offer is melodic rock with fine guitar work and good instrumentation from a well oiled band including Ed Spevock on drums. I particularly like Ross’s work on the slower Mystified but there is much to be enjoyed with the title track and a version of Peter Gabriel’s Get The Guns also noteable. The next album Restless Nights is credited to The Alan Ross Band and is seen less often. It’s a harder edged rock album again demonstrating Ross’s guitar prowess and again worthy of a listen.
So what albums can you tell us about that fit into this category of low price but good quality? They’re still out there so enjoy the hunt.
About the Author
Mike Warth – Retired teacher and Education Officer, old rocker, lover of prog, psych and folk – the latter for which I sometimes take some stick. (Why?) Currently having a ball working in The Sound Machine, Reading – independent Record Store par excellence and working with Vernon Joynson on the ultimate update to Tapestry Of Delights to be published October 2014.