Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Lambert and Stamp

Lambert & Stamp

I finally managed to catch this film, curtesy of our new local Curzon Cinema. Released back in May, this saw very limited showings, being an independent British film. 

The film is about The Who’s managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp who managed the group from 1964 to 1973. Those who have read or watched anything about Who-history will be familiar with Kit Lambert, much as been written about his huge influence, particularly on Pete Townshend’s song writing and concepts such as “Tommy” the rock opera. Kit’s approach to getting financial credit gets some laugh out moments and the black & white footage of London adds to the whole outdated idea that “the aristocracy know best”. It is Chris Stamp that is more fully illuminated in this documentary style film though, often depicted in Who biographies as the “cockney barrow boy” who worked on films to keep The Who financially afloat in the pre-Tommy years. His love of film, his thrill of working backstage at the ballet and artistic contributions to The Who brings him out of Kit’s shadow and show  what is genuinely the most intriguing and unusual management relationship in this era. Chris’ story about Keith Moon’s loyalty and being called up to face The Who’s lawyers the day after Moon’s burial is gut-wrenching, showing just how messed up things were by the late seventies.

For Who fans there is unseen footage galore, along with standard stock used in other Who documentaries, the music is mainly live versions of Who songs and to my knowledge there was nothing that I hadn’t heard before. The incidental music was culled from Pete’s “Scoop” albums, which being too loud over some of the interviews was the only thing I could fault in this film from a technical standpoint. 

The film seemed to take a similar direction to the Who biopic film “Amazing Journey”, concentrating initially on the relationship between the two managers and The Who, the first hour had a real energy and focus that was compelling and mesmerising, during the second hour the plot started to meander somewhat. Despite both Daltrey & Townshend’s high praise of Chris Stamp and a rather uncomfortable (for myself anyway) scene with them all in tuxedos at The White House collecting medals, it’s clear from all parties that there were still some old rifts that had not healed. Which leads on to something that I was scratching my head about as I was leaving the theatre, best summed up by the couple I was following as one asked the other “So is Kit Lambert dead then?”. Now I know that Kit died in 1981 from head injuries after falling downstairs, but at no point is Kit’s death mentioned and only vaguely referred to as “he’s no longer with us”. Kits death had a huge impact on Pete and would inform his 80’s output (All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes LP & Horses Neck book). Chris Stamp talks about how Kit’s heroin addiction made him unpredictable while walking in a graveyard, while even Stamps passing in 2012 wasn’t mentioned. 

Like all the best Who projects, you are left with more questions than answers and there is something of a half-finished idea like The Who Sell Out to this film. It is however well worth watching and is carried by the sheer unmitigated gall of this charismatic team. It’s scheduled for release on DVD etc. later this year.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Earwax Records

Earwax Records (& the slow death of our streets)


Like many cities, New York isn’t without its Record Shop casualties. In recent years, despite the “vinyl revival”, some of my favourite stores have shut up shop, unable to keep up with the rising rents that are driven by global and chain companies. Bleecker Bob’s closing in 2013 was a huge shock, for 46 years this was ones of the best known record shops in the world, where the stars would rub shoulders with record geeks and even made an appearance on Seinfeld. 


Recently J&R in Park Row went into liquidation, its store which closed in 2014 for refurbishment is still undergoing renovations and it’s uncertain what exactly will be happening with this company, although it still continues to trade online. Bleecker St. Records has moved to W4th St, albeit to a smaller location while its sister store Generation Records remains in Thompson St. 

So I was somewhat relieved to find out that my unsuccessful search for Earwax Records in summer 2013, finding its Bedford St. Williamsburg, Brooklyn store vacated at the time, was relocated to its new address which I managed to track down last month.  Whilst not a huge store, it did seem to have a lot of what I was looking for, including my favourite Green Day album “Dookie”. I’ve been after this for years but not been prepared to pay “silly money for nineties vinyl” prices, along with another favourite I’ve never been able to track down, Wilco’s incredible “Being There” lpThere is defiantly an air of “outside the mainstream” to what’s on offer here, so Taylor Swift & Sam Smith fans may want to look elsewhere.  Along with some genuine wholesome Brooklyn customer service, knowledgeable and cool, topped off with an extremely comfy chair for the record widow/widower. If you are in NYC, I highly recommend a visit to this store with the added bonus of checking out Williamsburg. 

Earwax is located at 167 North 9th Street between Bedford and Driggs Aves in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-3771).



Record Stores are only a small part of our culture that is being destroyed in all major cities. I’ve just read that one of NY go-to music shops, Rudy’s on 48th St will be closing in August 2015. For the latest in the slow gentrification and globalisation of our cities, take a look at the heart-breaking blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York


Friday, 3 July 2015

A Tale Of Two MOFIs

A Tale Of Two MOFIs

Mobile Fidelity began life as a recording “lab” in the late fifties, with little interest from anyone outside of the audiophile community. By 1977 they began a line of Original Master Recording records, mastered at half speed from the original master tapes. After a turbulent decade in the nineties, Mobile Fidelity remains with us and continues to offer good quality record re-issues. 

A recent trip to Sister Ray saw me coming away with two such reissues, Elvis Costello’s debut “My Aim Is True” & Bob Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks”.

My only other MOFI release is The Beat’s “Special Beat Service” which I always felt sounded just a bit too bright for my ears. 

So I’m pleased to say both of these albums sound incredible. I was slightly surprised by the lack of signal volume on “My Aim Is True”, however the drum kit sounds better than ever compared to the many CD reissues of this album with the overall album sounding a lot more natural than the” limited to within an inch of its life” latest digital version and more rounded than the first thin sounding CD. This quieter cut is something that became a feature of Elvis’ albums like “Get Happy” that crammed as many tracks as possible onto each side, the trade-off being that they had a lower signal output. 

Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks is an album that I didn’t own, so I have nothing to compare it to. It has quickly become one of my favourite albums and sounds so beautiful, I realise why some feel that it’s his best album. I’ve always preferred “dryer” more natural sounding albums (particularly for acoustic / folky records - think Crosby Stills & Nash debut album) over the Phil Spector “wall of sound” compressed reverb sound, but horses for courses each to their own etc.  

Both come presented in heavy weight cardboard gatefold sleeves with bonus artwork and good quality mofi inner sleeves that I use on all my new & post cleaned albums.