Category Archives: Macc Record Club

Soon to happen: Brilliant Corners at Brilliant Corners

Regular visitors may have read about the visits that I made to Macclesfield Record Club last Autumn. If you want to recap, my account of my September visit is here and November is here.

Macclesfield Record Club is very enjoyable and, wanting to find out if there was anything similar in London, I did a little digging and found out about Classic Album Sundays (CAS).

CAS appears to be very different from the Macc setup. It has a presenter, a cover charge, a high-value / high-end hi-fi for playback and a requirement that people listen without talking, phoning, texting or distracting others. I missed a non-Jazz session that looked extremely interesting just before Christmas and I was keen to take a look some time, as soon as possible, this year.

I was delighted to discover that on 1st February 2015, the chosen record will be Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners. It was an inevitable selection really because the venue, a cafe bar in London’s Dalston district, is also called Brilliant Corners. Tickets have just gone on sale and you can obtain them from the Classic Album Sundays website here.

I’ll be hoping to report back about CAS in due course. I’m intrigued to find out both how Monk’s great Riverside set will come across and how it will sound on the powerful and exotic system that they are advertising. Stay tuned!


Flying The Jazz Flag at Macc Record Club. November 2014

Macclesfield Record Club was in session for its third meet-up last night. Held in the upstairs bar of Mash, a stylish, quirky bar that would not be out of place in Shoreditch or Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the second Wednesday of each month offers a cornucopia of vinyl.

You know how it is. You may just have bought an amazing box set reissue of the life’s work of a critically acclaimed African musician and producer, William Onyeabor; you may select a couple of favourites from Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson; movie soundtracks might be your thing; you are a DJ who wants people to hear a potential floor filler; you might want to put metal against your fellow listeners mettle with some light satanic death thrash, while the deservedly obscure Flexi Sex might be something that just has to be played. All of these things and more were there last night.

The album of the evening, chosen through a pre-meet internet ballot and played in full was Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Discussion ranged widely over what were considered by those present to be his best recordings, without any final consensus. I’m not sure if it was the first pressing on UK RCA that was lacking in a bit of punch or whether the volume was a bit low, but after a while, it did start to sound a bit backgroundy in this context (although it’s up there with Bowie’s best for my money).

As for me, I’m the guy who fights from the Jazz corner. So much to choose from, so many potential barriers to overcome. Although there was a temptation to turn up with Albert Ayler’s Truth Is Marching In, I resisted exposing my fellow listeners to the glories of the free extremes of the Impulse label.

My first track was designed to grab the attention with some hard-edged, soul flavoured saxophone and guitar. Don Wilkerson was called on and you can hear Camp Meeting right here.

To play, touch or click on the arrow.

My own copy isn’t a brilliant pressing (French Liberty) but it still sounded OK. I expect near-mint original first pressings are rare and extremely expensive, but I live in hope.

Attendees like to hear a little about the recording before the stylus graces the groove and my temptation to say a little about Freddie Roach accompanied the title track from his Brown Sugar, presented here for your delectation:

Freddie Roach wrote in 1964, in his self-penned sleevenotes:

I decided to do show soul tunes: Brown Sugar was written with this in mind. I really pictured the dancers in my head. I saw them as they danced the twist to the first twelve bars. Then switching to the Bop for the second twelve and eight bar turnback. Then back to the twist. I could see them so plainly that instead of saying ‘One More Time” at the end, I say “Now where you think you’re going girl” because I can see the girls heading back to their seats.”

I took a look at Brown Sugar here in December 2013. Joe Henderson on tenor sax and the great Grant Green on guitar really soar. My own copy is the Blue Note mono first pressing and a beast with great presence it is too, standing sonically alongside the punchiest 12 inch singles that were played tonight. Hats off to Rudy Van Gelder at the controls. I’m confident that my excursion to the Boogaloo Baptist part of the Blue Note spectrum won the label several new friends in the Castle Quarter of Macclesfield.

I can’t praise Macc Record Club too highly, offering as it does, the opportunity to listen to music that perhaps you wouldn’t normally consider listening to. Hosts Nick and Simon have wisely, in my view, limited themselves to an entry level music system, as they don’t want to introduce hifi eliteism. However, their move from a Rega RP1 turntable with basic cartridge to a more advanced Project / Ortofon Red cartridge arrangement next month will be interesting. Those Christmas carols and festive beats will be displayed at great advantage.

If you like the concept of what you just read about, why not do it yourself and start your own Record Club right there in your own locality. You can visit Macclesfield Record Club’s Facebook pages here.


Macc Record Club. 10 September 2014

One of the great delights of building a music collection is when the opportunity arises to play selections for other people and it can be even better if they introduce you to some of their favourites too.

Book groups have flourished up and down the country, offering interested people the chance to get together to explore new titles and discuss the merits, or otherwise, of what’s on offer.

Recorded music hasn’t received much of this sort of attention. Although, apparently there’s a Duke Ellington Society in London who get together to listen to the great man’s records and occasionally play other jazz titles.

In the spring I glanced at a HiFi magazine which told of a record club in deepest Derbyshire, where people got together to play vinyl recordings and talk about them. What a great idea and such a pity it wasn’t on my doorstep. I mentally filed it away in the ‘Good idea…But…’ section of my mind.

Luckily, somebody else also decided that what they had read about was a great idea. But, in their case, they were prepared to do something about it. In my home town of Macclesfield there was (in September 2014- as of January 2016 it now operates online only or by appointment) independent business where you can chose from great retro furniture and accessories. Simon, the proprietor, has a background in hi-fi, DJing and ultra high-end audio installation. So it was only a small leap for him to start to sell records and then to add simple retro record players to his stock.

Over time, local music lovers passed through the store, DMJ Vintage, enjoying entertaining conversation and, in my case, purchasing a Matmos Jelly Light. Simon had read the same article and decided to host a record night in the comfortable upstairs room of Mash Guru, an excellent and stylish local bar.

I was delighted to be able to attend the inaugural meeting last week.

Macc Record Club was advertised by word of mouth and text of Twitter. Like the Booker Prize, a few records were short listed and a main title was selected by public ballot, to be played in its entirety at 8pm sharp. Prospective attendees were encouraged to bring at least one track of their choice, of about 5 minutes in length, to play to everybody else.

Although it would have been relatively easy to put together a very high-end hi-fi, Simon, wisely in my view, decided to use a relatively simple and extremely affordable system based around Rega’s entry level turntable, arm and cartridge.

7.30pm arrived and five people had assembled. As I’d come quite a long way I was invited to play a tune. So it came to pass that the first record played at The Macclesfield Record Club was Blue Mitchell’s version of Hi-Heel Sneakers from his Down With It set. You may perhaps wonder why I chose that? Or perhaps not!

After that, we had Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited before all ears tuned to the album of the night, which was The Stone Roses first album. Drinks flowed, the conversation was rich and Scandinavian House, Steppenwolf, Now That’s What I Call Music Vol 35, Dr Dre, a track from a compilation of computer games backing tracks and Kenny Burrell’s Montono Blues (which you can listen to here) merged seamlessly. One by one we played our tracks and the first-night attendees swelled to about a dozen.

A memorable night was had. Unfortunately, time came for the closing tracks. Wigan Casino had the amazing three before 8 but Macc Record Club had its own show stopper: a selection from an ancient compilation of bands from Milton Keynes.

To that point an entire genre of music hadn’t featured- Country- but Simon put that right with the ballad of a father who baked a banana birthday cake for his lil (sic) son.

The narrative ran something like this: The said son thought that his dad had forgotten his birthday and ran out of the house, slipping on a banana skin (from the cake) into the path of a juggernaut, which ploughed into the house killing his mother too. What an amazing confection the cod cowboys of MK had conjured, presumably while tending their stone cows (next to Stone Roses?). Now that’s what I call country.

The format worked wonderfully and Simon and his co-producer, Peter did a brilliant job in turning a good idea to tangible reality. Macc Record Club deserves to flourish and I’ll be back from time to time. I had a dead good night and made sure the jazz flag flew proudly amidst the cornucopia of tunes. There was ‘No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones’ in 2014 Macclesfield and sadly no Clash either, but The Modern Lovers and Patti Smith did make an appearance.

If you like the idea of what you just read about, why not start your own record club at a venue of your choice? The only requirement was set out by the sage of Hampstead, George Michael: a willingness to LISTEN WITHOUT PREDJUDICE. Men and women of the world, it’s time to get out of our sheds and dens and share those big tunes.

You can read about the continuing adventures of Macc Record Club here.

DMJ Vintage can currently as of July 2016 be found here.