Steve Davis' Interesting Alternative

Rare vinyl cuts you might have missed…

Justin Timberlake hit the nail on the head when he sang, “What goes around… comes around,” and confirmed that the Dalai Lama was right. Justin’s insightful social commentary has never felt truer in these modern times, even more so, when applied to the medium of vinyl records.

The history of prog from the late 60s onwards, in all its guises and sub genres, is very firmly rooted in vinyl, especially in the 33rpm format. As the Earth spun on at 0.000696 rpm, we humans upped the musical ante by utilising the unheard of, and gravity-defying, variable speeds of 210-480 rpm. I’m not sure what the Vertigo swirl label effect would be at these rotational rates but I suspect it would be pants rather than mesmeric.

Thanks to Justin, things are coming around again, to some degree. CDs are slowly on the way out and vinyl is finding new popularity. We are in an interesting state of flux as to how we will listen to our music in the future, but one thing seems certain for the near future: PVC is seemingly indestructible. Many albums these days are bypassing CD entirely in favour of vinyl with a digital download code. Even the youth of today are finding the LP irresistible!

Regardless of your eventual opinion and affection for the CD, what is certain is that it was the catalyst for unearthing a treasure trove of rare and unissued material that otherwise would have remained largely undiscovered. However, not everything made it to CD reissue.

X-Tet’s Première Ligne is a good example of obscure prog-jazz that you are likely (not) to find. Issued on the eclectic F.L.V.M label in 1981, it probably languished in French record shop bargain bins for years before being rescued by those in the know. Get it for under £50 and you have a true bargain.

Master Cylinder’s Elsewhere is a superb Canterbury-style jazz-rock album from the unlikely outpost of Texas. Issued on the Inner City Records label in 1981 with nods perhaps to Hatfield And The North and early Soft Machine.

While it would be a stretch to say Heratius’s Gwendolyne is the French equivalent of Comus, it has enough weirdness and quality within its grooves to garner favour with those looking for something a little off the beaten track. Famous for making the Nurse With Wound list!

Eider Stellaire were Zeuhl minor league stars but punching well above their weight. Their first album has been reissued on CD (the vinyl selling for £500 plus). Their second vinyl outing, selling for less, is seemingly just as rare and guaranteed Zeuhltastic!

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