Saturday 26 June 2010
Dylan Jones: 'There's little to rival the involuntary yelp you give out when you stumble across an obscure record'
For me, my pets are my records – when I can find them that is. I have spent a good deal of my life sifting through rows and rows of old LPs, boxes of secondhand singles and racks of rare CDs in search of those records that continue to elude me. Even though Amazon and iTunes have made it easier to source deleted and difficult-to-find records, there is still little to rival the involuntary yelp you give out when you stumble across something on your list while idly looking through a record store.
It happened to me last week, while I was cruising the aisles of Amoeba – not only the best record shop in LA, but, the way things are going, soon to be the only one. With a scrappy piece of paper in my hand, I was scouring the D section of the soul department looking for a copy of the impossible-to-find 1972 album The Dells Sing Dionne Warwick's Greatest Hits when suddenly I was holding one. There it was, brand new, for $9.99.
When something like this happens I usually do a double take, and look for the flaw: is it a live version, is that the real price, am I dreaming, etc? But this was the real deal – one of the greatest baroque soul albums ever made.
Why? Well, its architect was the fabulous Charles Stepney, a Phil Spector character in terms of his sonic ambitions, and his approach to recording sessions always involved a full string section, a funky backbeat, and some soaring vocals. Here, he also had one of the foremost singing groups of the era.
The title of the album is a slight misnomer, as it's actually a collection of Burt Bacharach covers. The record includes "Walk on By", "A House is Not a Home" and "I Say a Little Prayer", although the stand-out track is Stepney's extraordinary version of "Wives and Lovers", one of Bacharach's most complex pop songs. Stepney's version is layered with so many washes of sound that it feels and sounds like a small symphony.
So not only have I found one of the rareties on my list, but also – and this isn't always the case – it has totally exceeded expectations. See you at Amoeba, maybe.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
The Big Questions: Is Woman’s Hour still relevant? What should we make of ‘twerking’?
The secret life of David Cameron
#Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi: Though they have more money, the rich are not so different
The Daily Cartoon
Top PR exec under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
Ten best places to live in the UK: Hart in Hampshire takes top spot
Winter Solstice: Shortest day of the year marked with 'knitted' Google Doodle
Spanish government backs tough abortion laws
Lockerbie bombing: David Cameron praises 'resilience' of victims' families as memorial services mark 25th anniversary
Tim Key: ‘I’m in the midst of an office Christmas party. I feel like such an outsider’
£59999 - £80001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top 10 firm in ...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 5 Teacher - Gilli...
£60000 - £90000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...