Monthly Archives: October 2012

An amazing journey: Riffat’s record

The first phase of a long overdue project wrapped up earlier this month at AM, Then FM world headquarters. I entered all of my vinyl LPs into a spreadsheet. There were a few interesting discoveries along the way.

When I pulled out my copy of “The Beatles” — yes, the White Album — I found an extra copy of “Revolver” tucked inside. Just the LP and sleeve, but no jacket.

There also was a name stylishly written on the lower right corner of “The Beatles” album jacket. My copy once belonged to one Riffat Kamal.

Presented with this little mystery — and I do love little mysteries — I began the search for Riffat Kamal. It didn’t take long to find him, even though he lives half the world away. Google, LinkedIn and Facebook make the world smaller.

We exchanged notes. I told him I thought I had a record he once owned, and that I likely bought it in Madison, Wisconsin, where we both lived during the ’80s.

Riffat Kamal is a cool guy, and he has a cool story. Here it is, in his words:

* * *

“I am delighted to know that my copy of the White Album is in good hands. I had quite a few records back at UW-Madison and I guess this was one of them. I started writing my name on the records when I lived in the dorm there, since I was always losing track of who on my dorm floor was borrowing which LP.

* * *

“I eventually ended up selling my entire collection after switching to CDs, a decision I now regret. However, it would have been too difficult to haul crates of records with all the moving around I’ve done.

* * *

“Wisconsin has always had a special place in my heart, so I am really glad to have heard from you. It is the first state I went to when I moved to the U.S. from my native Pakistan as an 18-year-old. It was the start of an amazing journey that took me to Los Angeles and San Francisco after leaving Wisconsin, and becoming a naturalized American citizen in the process. I now live in the Tokyo area with my Japanese wife.”

* * *

And I am really glad to have heard from you, sir.

I’m not sure where I bought Riffat’s record, although I’m fairly certain it was at Madcity Music Exchange at its original location on Regent Street, just south of the UW campus. Likewise, I’m not sure where I got the following bootleg. Somewhere on the web, five years ago.

“Revolution,” the Beatles, from the widely bootlegged Esher demos (also known as the Kinfauns demos), 1968. Never formally released.

Kinfauns was George Harrison’s home in the town of Esher, Surrey, England, from 1964 to 1970. There, in May 1968, the Beatles recorded many of the largely acoustic demos for the songs that wound up on “The Beatles” later that year.

The finished, more familiar version, of course, is on the White Album that once belonged to a Pakistani kid who was studying thousands of miles from home and beginning what has indeed turned out to be an amazing journey.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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R.B. Greaves: Coming home

The tributes to R.B. Greaves started popping up on Facebook late this afternoon, while I was off the grid. The smooth R&B singer was 68 when he died last week in Los Angeles.

His self-titled LP from 1970, the one with “Take A Letter, Maria” on it, was among the first big bunch of records I bought when I got back into collecting vinyl a few years ago. It was part of a haul of 20 records for $20 from the $1 record boxes in the tent in my friend Jim’s back yard.

I wrote about that record from time to time, and I’m glad I did so while Greaves was still with us.

Twice, it was to share his cover of “Always Something There To Remind Me.” Most recently, it was to celebrate the songs of Hal David, the great lyricist, something I did not do while David was still with us.

The first time, it was after I’d accidentally erased a small audio clip of our son’s voice, recorded before his voice changed. That was four years ago, and somehow, I still remember what that little boy’s voice sounded like. Maybe writing that post about a little bit of innocence lost helped to preserve it in my head.

Once, though, it was a deep cut from that self-titled LP, which despite that familiar hit single summons up a bunch of little mysteries.

“This is Soul,” R.B. Greaves, from “R.B. Greaves,” 1970.

One such mystery is why this fine little upbeat slice of Muscle Shoals soul wasn’t ever released as a single.

The post with that deep cut was a teaser to a longer post about R.B. Greaves over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker. Side 1 of this album is featured there.

I also have R.B. Greaves’ second album, also self-titled, which was released on Bareback Records in 1977. It’s full of pleasant enough but unremarkable mid-’70s pop-R&B. The 1970 LP is the only one you really need to have.

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Meanwhile, in an alternate universe

After Stevie Wonder hit it big with “Superstition” in 1972, it’s no wonder Jeff Beck was perhaps the first to cover it.

While working together in the studio for Wonder’s “Talking Book” album, on which Beck played guitar, Beck concocted the drum beat around which Wonder built the rest of “Superstition.” So Wonder offered the song to Beck.

However, Motown studio chief Berry Gordy thought Wonder ought to keep it for himself. So “Superstition,” by Stevie Wonder, was released by Motown in October 1972.

By that December, Beck was cutting that song in the studio with his new power trio, Beck, Bogert & Appice.

“Superstition,” Beck, Bogert & Appice, from “Beck, Bogert & Appice,” 1973. It’s out of print but is available digitally. When this LP came out, the “Superstition” cover was about the only thing many critics liked about it.

Dig this, too. Now that, friends, is a ’70s power trio.

Beck has played “Superstition” at his shows for years.

Here, he accompanies Wonder. This is from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary show at Madison Square Garden in New York in October 2009.

We now direct you to our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more early ’70s supergroupery from Beck, Bogert & Appice.

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Filed under October 2012, Sounds