Record Store Day 2015 – and some of my vinyl treasures

Today is Record Store Day. I’m planning a trip to a few shops later to see what’s on offer, but I won’t be fighting the crowds for door buster grab-em-while-you-can RSD releases, as usual I’ll take my chances later when the crowds diminish.

Anyway, this post is a tribute to in general and some that I am just very happy to own. I’ve been collecting vinyl since the early 1980s and have rather a lot of it. Probably too much if that’s actually possible. Over the years I’ve chanced upon many special things. Here’s a just few of them…

LiLiPuT/Kleenex singles
These are collectible now, but when I bought them you could hardly give them away. Most came from 50 cent bins. Apart form the great music the covers are super.Liliput you did it
LiLiPuT – You Did It (1983)
Kleenex Split
LiLiPuT – Split (1980)

liliputLiLiPuT – Eisger Wind (1980)

aint you 2aint you 2
Kleenex – Ain’t You (1978)

Deux Filles
Another one you couldn’t pay people to take at the time, now going for insane prices are the two Paper Mache label releases by Deux Filles. Spectacular records now readily and affordably available on a deluxe CD set that you really should own. Spooky, haunting music, and actually two fellows pretending to be ladies. Something for everyone.

DF SW1
Deux Filles – Silence and Wisdom (1982)

DF DH
Deux Filles – Double Happiness (1983)

Barbarella – The Bob Crewe Generation Orchestra (1968)
I wanted this for many years and finally found it in Olympia in the USA. For $8. Before the internet you had to seek things and hope a lot.

Barbarella

ABBA – Greatest Hits (1975)
The freakiest ABBA cover ever, seriously, how did this ever happen? Benny’s feet. Frida’s mouth breast things. Bjorn is playing a elephant guitar with fish shoes. Agnetha – multi-feet. In glorious gatefold goodness for maximum freakery.
abba hits

 Mari Wilson singles
I’m a big fan of Mari as well as the Compact Organisation label that was ahead of the whole lounge revival by a good decade (to their own detriment unfortunately). Still, many of their records are reasonably easy to find still and it’s worth buying everything. Here’s some of the Mari Wilson singles, I have mutiple copies of most as I keep finding them for next to nothing and, well, they’re lovely. Oh,and the liner notes are killer.
Mari beat Mari Just Mari Beware Mari Baby Mari Dance Card
Beat The Beat (1982)
Just What I Always Wanted (1982)
Beware Boyfriend (1982)
Baby It’s True (1982)
Dance Card (1981)

The B-52’s – Rock Lobster (1978)
One of my favourite bands I am pleased to have one of the early releases of this single – it’s a bit like a demo version of the song that went on to be a huge smash. There’s something wonderful about the simple retro cover design (a little like some of the Devo singles around the time) and the band image on the back that’s so charming. Look, you can write to them too!
B RLB RL 2

I could list records all day but you know, Record Store Day beckons…

 

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Participatory Art Part Two: Yoko Ono

In December 2013 I travelled to Sydney for a holiday and also rather excitedly to see the Yoko Ono War Is Over (If You Want It) exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for over a year. Sorry about that.

I’m a big Ono fan. I love the (apparent) simplicity of her art; her direct and universal ideas; her clouds. All of this I expected and was not disappointed, but I got a lot more out of this exhibition than I anticipated.

Most of Yoko Ono’s work from her artwork to her Twitter feed is about involving the viewer beyond just communicating it to them. Often that involvement is through planting ideas. Simple ideas, but big ideas. But there are also opportunities to take a direct part in the artwork. I had decided from the outset that I would involve myself in every aspect of this exhibition. And I’m so glad I did.

Mend Piece For Sydney

SAMSUNGSet up on a large table was broken crockery, string, sticky tape and glue. I read the instructions and did what Yoko said. This was the result.

SAMSUNGP1000700I don’t know whether it was ‘good’, or anything remotely like ‘art’. I do know that it didn’t matter. The act of creating this ‘mended’ piece of mishapen crockery with tape and string while thinking about a world that needed mending was a surprisingly powerful thing to do. I did feel like I was, somehow, helping to mend the world. Apparently at the end of every exhibition Yoko selects one piece she keeps for her personal collection.

IMAGINE MAP PEACE FOR SYDNEY

SAMSUNGThere were stamp pads and rubber stamps with ‘IMAGINE PEACE’ written in several different languages. Large maps were pasted around the room full to capacity of peace stamps from visitors. The effect was powerful. Below is my contribution (the English language stamp in the Antipodes).

SAMSUNGHELMETS – PIECES OF SKY

A room with suspended soldier’s helmets filled with jigsaw pieces.

P1000707An invitation to “Take a piece of sky / know that we are all part of each other.”.

P1000708P1000711 P1000712Again, the universal and direct idea of the pieces of the jigsaw and the lightness and repurposing of the helmets made for war was another magical part of the exhibition.

MY MOMMY IS BEAUTIFUL

P1000689Without a doubt, this was the one that resonated the most. A simple invitation to celebrate your mother with a note and a thought. This was very raw for me as my mother had passed away earlier in 2013 and this request for me to stop and create for her brought me to tears. I have been moved by art before, but never like this. I chose not to use words. Below is what I made.

P1000687I spoke with several of the MCA staff and found them all deeply enthusiastic about the work. Some even told me how much they enjoyed simply being there in the space (which is of course their workplace and maybe somewhere they’d not always want to be), as they loved the enviroment she had created. What I’ve shown above is only the participatory part of the exhibition and there was much more. I’ll include some more photos in a subsequent post. I left the exhibition feeling different to when I went in, it was an experience that not only made me feel something, but it also affected the way I was looking at the world. Even now, blue clouds remind me of Yoko’s work and her eternal message of peace. It’s strong stuff.

One final thing. A few floors above the exhibition in the cafe was another Yoko Ono participatory piece.

WISH TREE FOR SYDNEY

P1000736This was my wish.

P1000727

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Can The Can

You probably know this already, but the German band Can are excellent. Especially this amazement.

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More Shrigley

As promised here are some more photos from the David Shrigley exhibition.

This chap moves across the floor drawing geometic patters with pens stuck in his notrils. Like a surreal robot vacuum cleaner spirograph.

P1030400 P1030401 P1030402 P1030403Eggs that say “Egg”.

P1030404A locked gate (in the background a giant backpack).

P1030405The visitor-made skeleton artworks from a previous exhibition.

P1030406 P1030407 P1030408A little door with a traffic light. Kids were running through here.

P1030409One of several illuminated signs.

P1030410My favourite picture in the exhibition.

P1030411

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Participatory Art – Part 1: David Shrigley

I went to the National Gallery Victoria yesterday to see, and participate in, the David Shrigley exhibition. What’s that? Participate in? As apart from “just looking”? Why yes, it’s the new black don’t cha know? And I love it. D.S. has a ‘life drawing’ class set up as part of the exhibition where you’re invited to draw the sculpture in the middle of the room. The model is a huge an elfin looking male, a little scary and nude with an unattractive penis. He also blinks and apparently urinates once in a while. I know what you’re thinking, that’s so Shrigley. Anyway, here’s the gent in question.

P1030412

The gallery walls are lined with visitor sketches, but not from this exhibition, from a previous one in the UK. I was told that from the many sketches made in the Melbourne exhibition a bunch would be chosen to be displayed at the next place it travels to. 

I got there on opening and was the only person in the room apart from the staff member who furnished me with paper and sketching materials. I chose an easel and got to it. Here’s the result.

P1030413 P1030419There was also another room that was filled with more visitor drawings, this time of a skeleton, from a previous exhibition. If I was cynical, which I’m not, I could say this was Shrigley getting the public to make his art for him, and in a way, that’s exactly what it is. But. It works. And the work feels like he’s had a hand in it even though his input has really only been as facilitator. If Warhol was still around you can bet it’s what he’d be doing.

There are lots of other artworks on display (more photos will emerge in subsequent posts) and clever stuff going on. I’ll admit that I had generally thought Shrigley’s work was perhaps making a little go a long way, and I still do, but it’s also a kind of genius. I enjoy the haphazard let’s-see-where-this-goes nature of what he does. His collection of scrappy drawings and sloganeering has a certain anyone-can-do-it feeling, and from inviting us to also make the work, he proves that’s more or less true. But as he’s administrating the show, clearly he does it best.

While I was at the gallery I also visited the other exhibitions some of which were also participatory. One was a scanner conveyor belt modelled after an airport x-ray security machine that you could put things on and they would project onto the belt. The yellow and brown things are my coin and travel pass holders. I don’t know where the iThing came from, there was noone else there at the time.P1030424

The other was an exhibition which had an artwork made up of words from protest posters that you could pin to the board or make a badge to wear home. I made this one.

P1030420It’s nice being able to bring a part of the exhibition home without having to buy it at the gift shop (the special Shrigley gift shop is an artwork in itself by the way), or perhaps be a part of the exhibition in the future.

Soon – more participatory art, this time from Ms Ono.

PS: The Alex Prager exhibition on at the moment is also excellent. And of course Gaultier.

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Anthony Perkins Paper Doll

Anthony-Perkins paper doll

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Happy New Year (from Fad Gadget)

Fad Gadget - Under The FlagSince the 1980s this is the first album I’ve listened to every January 1st. It’s an odd and perhaps depressing choice, especially for a chap so generally cheerful as myself, so I thought it was time to work out why it has remained my New Year go-to album.

Under the Flag was was the third album released by the British electronic artist Frank Tovey who worked for most of his (sadly short) career under the name of Fad Gadget. The Fad Gadget albums came out under the MUTE label, then also the home of Depeche Mode, The Silicon Teens, The Normal, Robert Rental, DAF and other electronic pioneers.

Tovey’s ouvre to this point had been uniformly dark, generally bleak, but often beautiful – and never more so than here. Under The Flag followed on from 1981’s Incontinent where his increased technical skills merged acoustic sounds with electronics to make a warmer sound from what had started as a much colder style of music. Under The Flag’s arrangement riches lie in its warm sequenced electronics and the way they sit both comfortably and yet ill-at-ease with the extensive use of piano and backing vocals. His crew of backing vocalists (which includes Alison Moyet, also playing saxophone by the way) provide yelps, distorted yodels, Dutch nursey rhymes and choral ambience. The voices combine well as support to Tovey’s world-weary baritone. Under The Flag’s sound still feels unique to me, the closest comparison I can think of is Barbara Morgenstern’s BM from 2008 which takes a similar approach with the electronics/piano mix, but it’s really very different. Under The Flag stands alone (please prove me wrong, I’d love to hear more albums like this).

Around this time Tovey had just become a father, and his mix of happiness and uncertainty of the world his child is going to grow up in makes for some fascinating and dark subject matter. The title track is about unemployment, there’s the jolly sounding Love Parasite (which is actually a gruesome view of pregnancy), Wheels of Fortune (pollution), and I suspect the malaise of the Falkland’s War hung heavily over The Sheep Look Up and Cipher. The meaning of some of the tracks are harder to pin down including the singles Life on the Line and For Whom The Bells Toll which appear to be about corporate subservience and grief (respectively).

Despite the lyrics that include ‘exhaust pipes at pram-level’, his message to his unborn child that ‘you lack the gift of speech but you suck like a leech’ and ‘young hopes deep in depression’ Under The Flag’s feels cautiously optimistic as it progresses and the dark clouds of sadness begin to separate. His brutally honest worldview that refelects on both the joys and sadness of what has come before, and what is too come, is likely what makes it my new year starter record of choice.

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