Apple Venus Vol 1
(Cooking Vinyl, 1999)
An example of how relatively new records can slip through the cracks, Apple Venus and its partner piece, 2000’s Wasp Star – as well as their boxset incarnation Apple Box – are presently only available second-hand. On first release, this was XTC’s first material after the band broke free of their contract with Virgin, and represented the sound of Andy Partridge’s new-found creative freedom, mixing skewed McCartney pop with daintily avant-garde orchestration and devil-in-the-detail lyrics about harvest festivals. The rights have reverted to Partridge, but it seems there is a pretty simple reason why it’s not in print. “I think it will be available again,” a source tells us, “but it was pretty expensive to do…” Meanwhile, all of XTC’s Virgin-era catalogue – even offshoot psych project The Dukes Of Stratosphear – is freely available, an irony Partridge would probably appreciate.
EXPECT TO PAY: £5 for the CD, £30 for vinyl, and £50 for the lovely Apple Box
This odd live double caught The Who in one of its stranger incarnations, trundling across America in 1989. Daltrey, Entwistle and Townshend are bolstered by Deep End, the latter’s back-up troupe for his proposed Iron Man tour, which instead morphed into a Who reunion trek. Hence two drummers, a brass section and full choir. Townshend, apparently suffering from tinnitus, seemed content to play acoustic, with youngster Steve Bolton on lead. Disc one is all Tommy, but disc two is the keeper, with horn-sodden versions of “Love Reign O’er Me”, “Join Together” and the little-heard “Trick Of The Light”. The album peaked at 188 in the US and barely scraped the Top 60 over here. Which, with another 10 live LPs since, hardly makes its reissue a top priority.
EXPECT TO PAY: £20 for the CD, the vinyl has sold for double
THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH
The Undisputed Truth
Norman Whitfield was one of Motown’s most successful producers, working on hits for Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr and, particularly, The Temptations. But it was with his own group, The Undisputed Truth, fronted by Motown backing singers Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce, that Whitfield embarked on far more radical experiments into psych soul and political commentary. Whitfield used the Truth to expand on his own material – this hard-to-find debut included the first version of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, and a thunderous 11-minute take on “Ball Of Confusion” – as well as funky vamps on intriguing covers like Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”.
EXPECT TO PAY: £25 for the UK vinyl