Madness - Cardiac Arrest 7"
I remember buying this in a record shop near Walthamstow Central station. Given that I was only 6 when it was released I don't think I paid for it myself. I was obsessed with Madness when I was a kid. I have found myself revisiting their early albums in the last couple of years and quite enjoying them. Stupidly I did the crossword on the record sleeve and though I managed to get the marks off, the imprint of my heavy handed pencil work can still be seen.
Worst cover/best band?
France - untitled
I was at the Kraakfest in Belgium in March and the first band of the day were a drum bass and hurdy-gurdy trio from France called France (this name makes them pretty much invisible to internet searches which is quite annoying as they were really really good). The hurdy-gurdy through a load of effects pedals makes quite a noise. I ummed and aahed all day about whether to buy their album. I really wanted it, as they were amazing live, but the cover is totally horrible. Offensively horrible even. At the end of the day though, you don't have to look at the sleeve when you're playing the record though, so I went for it. It's a damn good 30 minute-ish track though, so it was totally worth it.
Caroliner - Rise Of The Common Woodpile
CDRs by Spider Compass Good Crime Band, Kim Choo Ja, Compression Of The Chest Cavity Miracle and Core Of The Coal Man
I have only in the last couple of years got into Caroliner so have a lot of catching up to do. One of my favourite Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 singles is them covering a Caroliner song, so I knew that sooner or later I would be checking them out. When I first managed to get hold of one of their records I loved the sleeve. A completely unique mix of photocopies, ink washes and spray paint. And amazing artwork too, which completely matches the music. My photo does not do it justice. My quest to get as much Caroliner stuff as possible led me to Brutal Sound Effects (http://brutalsoundeffects.com/) where I could go crazy on Caroliner and where I also uncovered all sorts of other gems, mainly from the San Francisco area noise scene. The CDRs I have bought from them are, like the Caroliner stuff, really interestingly packaged and it's almost impossible to get them back to how they started when you get the disc out. Top right in the photo is a 'semi-authorised' (guess this means no-one has complained yet) of an impossible to find album of vintage Korean psych by Kim Choo Ja that I was desperate to get. Normally though, I just go to the website and make a semi-random selection of stuff that looks interesting, which to be honest is most of the stuff on there.
Best value for money
John Coltrane - Live In Seattle, Ole, Ascension, Live At The Village Vanguard Again
Japan. Full stop. Go top Japan and buy all the records you have always dreamed about for dirt cheap prices. Don't bother taking clothes, you will need the space in your luggage on the way back. The majority of my John Coltrane vinyl has been bought there at shockingly low prices. The Disk Union record shop chain is the stuff dreams are made of. Jazz is particularly good value and also the records always seem to have the best covers I think. I particularly like the look of the Ole Coltrane album, and it just wouldn't look so good CD sized. Live At The Village Vanguard Again is here mainly for that fact that most of the band look ready to go on stage, and Jimmy Garrison looks like he's off on a school trip.
Best impulse buy due to outstanding cover?Takeshi Terauchi - Let's Go Eleki Bushi
The cover pretty much says it all here. Traditional Japanese folk songs played in a surf style. Sometimes you just know you are going to like a record without ever having heard of it before. Slightly disappointingly all of the other records I have bought by Takeshi Terauchi have fallen short of this one.
Best album ever?
The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
Great cover too. My favourite album which I also have on double 10" with alternate takes and instrumental versions. I only play that when I am home alone, as for some reason other people don't seem to find it as fascinating as I do. 11 tracks, and two of them are a bit rubbish but still the best album ever. If it was only John Riley and Wild Mountain Thyme and then 9 duffers it would still be well up there.
Best themed covers
Film Music By Toru Takemitsu Vols. 4, 6 & 10
Ok, so not all records in Japan are cheap. And I've got another 7 volumes of this that I need to get. I think some of them are going to be really expensive. A real variety of styles on these. Unsurprising given that they are from soundtracks to very different films. Takemitsu's more classical an experimental work is also well worth checking out, but none of those albums I have got have such stylish covers.