First LPs, flamenco dancers and sea shanties, musicals and clowns

Pinpointing my first LP is not so straightforward. The first one I was aware of as a boy was Neil Young’s Harvest, as it was for a while the only record in the house, and I heard it far too often, echoing on the bare cement floor of the Land Commission cottage that my parents had bought in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1970. No water, no electricity, poured cement walls, cement roof tiles, cowshed of similar size but with fewer windows, £900 for the lot. Dark nights, dark woods over Tower Road, dark eyes of the cows staring across the wall, and Neil Young. The record had a dark unpleasant power over me for years afterwards, but it wasn’t my record, it was my father’s. It was a present he’d been given by a hitch-hiking couple, I think.

Tower Road Jenkinstown County Kilkenny

My parents sank a well, saving the walk up the hill to the hand pump at one end of the road, and they also ran a pipe thorough the woods to the elderly lady who was our nearest neighbour, and dug a septic tank behind the outhouse, and got electricity via a new line of tarred poles running across the fields to end with one in the middle of our front lawn, topped off with a buzzing transformer. Also a phone, placed on a big block of polystyrene that served as furniture in one of the rooms, and a cattle grid to keep the big beasts out of the garden. A new concrete block extension gave a bedroom for my brother and I. Now we had our own little record player, and our own records. I don’t remember which record came first. My brother listened a lot to a story record of Larry the Lamb in Toytown, and Larry’s voice became almost as disturbing to me as Neil Young’s. The other early LPs I remember my brother and I listening to were two Burl Ives LPs, and a loud flamenco record: Flamenco Candido, by The Curro Amaya Dancers with Domingo Albarado, vocal, and Juan Jiminez, guitar. The record was first published in 1959, but ours was a later reissue on the Pye Golden Guinea label.

Flamenco Candido back of sleeve

Here is another Amaya, Carmen Amaya performing Buleria from a 1963 film, Los Tarantos. I think Curro Amaya was Carmen Amaya’s nephew, and Buleria is also included on his LP. More about the Amaya family on Omayra Amaya’s website.

Down to the Sea in Ships - Burl Ives - album sleeve

The two Burl Ives records we had were Junior Choice and Down to the Sea in Ships. This collection of sea shanties has been responsible for the course most of my work has taken in recent years. I came across a paperback from 1956, Burl Ives Sea Songs of Sailing, Whaling, and Fishing, and started singing some of them to my children at bedtime. Then came the desire to illustrate a book of them, something I still haven’t done, but talking over the idea led to the Dutch picture book Het Zeemans-ABC (A Sailor’s ABC) and my current sea monster project for Nobrow Press.

Down to the Sea in Ships - back of sleeve

My last LP is also a bit tricky. There were three of them, bought on the same visit to Harold Moore’s on Great Marlborough Street, London. One was Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Three Classic Movie Musicals, with songs from The Love Parade, One Hour With You, and Love Me Tonight. I’ve only actually seen the last of those three films. Here’s Anything to Please the Queen from The Love Parade, and the insanely extended Isn’t it Romantic from Love Me Tonight, and here’s Irwin Chusid on WFMU playing Three Times a Day from One Hour With You. The timings on that playlist seem a little off – you’ll find the song at around 1:31:30.

Chevalier MacDonald Three Classic Movie Musicals

The other two records I took home that day were Laurel & Hardy, The Golden Age of Hollywood Comedy, and Les Musiques Des Films de Charlie Chaplin, Michel Villard and his Orchestra. Both of these came in nicely produced gatefold sleeves, and both are of course wonderful to listen to.

Here’s The Avalon Boys performing At The Ball, That’s All, in Laurel & Hardy’s Way Out West,  and here’s Michel Villard’s recording of La Violetera from City Lights.


6 comments on “First LPs, flamenco dancers and sea shanties, musicals and clowns

  1. Thanks for this lovely post Kellie. I had Burl Ives’ Junior Choice too!

  2. […] week, with LPs, was a highlight of this series, with lovely posts from rustyfruitjuice and Kellie, covering everything from deep flamenco to children’s folk to 1980s pop to retro-punk […]

  3. […] of Airforce Amazons has a post about his first and last vinyl LPs at Bob’s Beats. This is an extract from that: The other early LPs I remember my brother and I […]

  4. the first neil young album i ever bought was “everybody knows this is nowhere” when i was 17 in the year when it was first released. i think i know what you mean, though, about the “dark unpleasant power” some of his songs can have over you, almost like a spell. in the summer of 1970, some friends of mine and i drove from los angeles to san francisco, where we stayed for a few days with my second cousin and his wife, and i insisted on bringing along my copy of that album, and the first thing i did when we arrived in san francisco, was put it on the stereo at full volume. i played the whole thing through twice.

  5. “Dark unpleasant power” is a good phrase. I remember the first time I heard Neil Young, and I felt that I wasn’t hearing them for the first time but that they were being brought up somehow from some place deep within me. The very first time I heard songs like “Tell Me Why” or “After the Gold Rush” or “Helpless” or “Out on the Weekend”, I felt a profound sense of loss or nostalgia, the sort of melancholy that usually only sediments in a song over time.

    On Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Wikipedia says: “”Cinnamon Girl,” “Down by the River,” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” … were written when Young had a 103 °F (39.5 °C) fever.” Which seems apt.

  6. […] 2. Kellie Strom: First LPs, flamenco dancers and sea shanties, musicals and clowns […]

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