That old black magic

I had never heard of Billy Daniels until this shellac disc – battered and scratched and with a crack running through it – came into my life. I was unsure whether it would even play, as the crack runs almost through to the label, but it worked okay. There is a noise, but no worse than a moderate scratch. And what a voice travels up the needle.

3075-a-sideDaniels was a genuine star in the 1950s. He was the first person to have a hit with “That Old Black Magic” – I have heard perhaps a dozen versions, but never his. He was the first African American to host a mainstream variety show on television in the United States. He worked the cabaret circuit, and was an early attraction on the Las Vegas casino show scene. It is said that he had mafia connections, which helped him get ahead. Probably true – how else to get a gig in Vegas? – but if so he was in good company.

What matters is that Billy Daniels could sing. On this disc he waxes between the casual and the impassioned, and he shifts style and tempo, and somehow this delivery lifts the (frankly lame) Tin Pan Alley lyrics of the song. It acquires an emotional power which it doesn’t really deserve. On this track, Daniels anticipates Tom Jones, even Elvis, and, like that old black magic, sends shivers down your spine.

  • Artist: Billy Daniels
  • Title: The Game of Love / I Still get a Thrill Thinking of You
  • Track: A side, “The Game of Love”
  • Format: 10” shellac disc, 78rpm
  • Label: Esquire Mercury, A-1106
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1951

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs. Mention this code “MSD519” to receive a free 7” disc of your choice (up to the value of $5.00) with any purchase.


Brownsville Station were a rock band popular in the early 1970s. They had one big hit, “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room”, an anthem encouraging teen rebellion in the form of lifelong support for the Philip Morris group of companies. You will know it, even if you don’t know their version – it was covered, almost identically, by Motley Crue in the 1980s.

It’s okay. A rocker with no great pretence. Straight up and down, like a toilet seat.

0418 BThis track, a B-side from before their big hit, is in the same vein but more enjoyable for mine. Another anthem in favour of teenage acting out, only this time it is playing loud music. The square Mister Robert, who lives next door complains about the volume; Brownsville respond by turning it up to 11. The lyrics are not always intelligible, and from the ones you can make out this is no great loss. But hey, this is party rock, and rock it does, with strong drums and some nice electric guitar.

They even tease poor Mister Robert by turning it down and going semi-classical, quite wel, before amping up again.

It would go down well in a smoky bar. Though in Australia these days, everybody knows that smoking ain’t allowed in bars …

  • Artist: Brownsville Station
  • Single Title: Let Your Yeah be Yeah
  • Track: Side B “Mister Robert”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Big Tree Records BT 161
  • Manufactured in: USA
  • Year: 1973

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs




Groovin’ Around, Baby

In 1973, a group of Australian musicians got together and cut a single. They called themselves Wild Honey, and they could play. The arrangements are complex: shifts in tempo, complex harmonies. For 1973, this is high level production.0220 Label A

Who were they? That is a mystery. There have been lots of bands called Wild Honey, but this does not turn up in an ay of the usual source. The label, Cohns or maybe “Call for Cohns” is otherwise unknown. The catalogue number suggests vanishing smallness: “CAWH”. Almost certainly this stands for “Cohns, Armstrong (the studio where it was recorded), Wild Honey”. They don’t even bother with a “001”, as most tiny labels do, with the proud / defiant hint that is more is to come.

0220 Label BOne clue. Both tracks were produced by one Bruce Rowland, who also has a composing credit for the A side. It is not impossible that this is Bruce Rowland, the Australian musician who is best known as a successful composer of film scores. But that is just a guess. Another credit is Steve Groves: a guitarist of that name later played with the Australian folk-rock band The Bushwackers. Could be him.

If anyone out there knows more, please get in touch.

Meantime, I am posting both sides of the single, because they are so rare, and because I like them both. The record is pretty battered, but the music comes through.

Side A is “Groovin’ Around”, slightly spacy-folk-rock with a hint of Crosby Still and Nash about it. Over reaches just a tad, but a fine effort. Side B is less ambitious but more successful, a humorous rock song about an International Man of Mystery. In fact, Austin Powers would have loved this record.

A Side: Groovin’ Around

B Side: Talkin’ Turkey

  • Artist: Wild Honey
  • Title: Groovin’ Around / Talkin’ Turkey
  • Format: 7” 45 rpm
  • Label: Cohns CAWH
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1973

Records, tattoos and manure cake

This was one of the very first records I sold online. The purchaser lives in Queensland, Link is his name, and he is a fan of eighties pop. He bought a few discs, and we exchanged some emails. I asked why he was into the eighties stuff: was he, like me, there at the time?

It turned out, no: “I’m a young hooligan I am! A ‘93 baby but really into 80s pop and progressive rock/60s stuff. Bit all over the place. But getting really passionate about record collecting … I’m also a giant Back to the Future fan (my first tattoo was a flux capacitor) and I saw the ‘Power of Love’ 45 without the sleeve and thought I could make a customised art sleeve for it, considering they made ‘Power of Love’ just for the movie.”0067 Huey 1985 label

It so happened that all this occurred in October 2015. Back to the Future Day was 21 October – and a few days later I sent a message to check the records had arrived okay, and asked if he had done anything special for the day. Link replied: “I Did! Me and my friend dressed up as Marty McFly and Doc Brown and watched all three movies. She made a manure cake cause a version of Biff gets covered in manure every movie. Turned out super poopy and delicious! xD And a matter of fact I did get a brand new hoverboard.”

manure cakeNow, I am a slightly square guy in middle age, who has no tattoos and no desire for one. I remember Huey Lewis and Back to the Future from the first time around, and they have a certain nostalgia value but they are not my passion. But they are for Link, who is also clearly not a man to stop the body art at just one flux capacitator.

And that is the beauty of Planet Vinyl: everyone is welcome, and everyone is respected. And nothing makes me happier than when someone who really does appreciate a record finds it online. So, Link, this one is for you!

  • Artist: Huey Lewis and the News,
  • Title: Power of Love
  • Track A: “Power of Love”
  • Format: 7” 45 rpm
  • Label: Chrysalis K 9763
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1985