Fruits de Mer Records - Psychedelia, Krautrock, Progressive Rock, Acid-Folk, R&B, Spacerock and Vinyl Heaven

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Other people's blogs are invariably as boring as hell to everybody bar the person who's writing it - they're self-centred, random, rambling, pointless or some combination of all four...

Here at Fruits de Mer Records, we don't like to break the pattern...so this is the FdM blog and you're welcome to it.

STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 3

As I sort through the shelves I'm finding countless records I don't remember buying/owning/playing, as well as quite a few that really shouldn't be there in the first place.
I found several copies of this flexi - with tracks by The Passage (who I don't rememember) and Blancmange (who I DO remeber, and really didn't like) - which were a result of my time working as the promotions bloke for Melody Maker; I'm still waiting to find the rather more credible flexis by The Jam and Iggy Pop that I was also responsible for...


STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 2

Apparently I have more Caravan CDs than any other prog band; turns out I also have quite a few singles by them, including some oddities...

STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE RECORD COLLECTION - 1

This was a flexi 7" released by Crass in disguise - a freebie for a few lucky readers of 'Loving' magazine - and no, I wasn't a reader, I worked for the publishing company responsible for it and flexi discs had a habit of ending up on my desk


THEIR MUMS WILL BE SO PROUD

All credit to Aston Villa's youth team, who took on the mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup while the entire first team squad were in isolation due to a covid outbreak; they held their own for 85 minutes (shame about the five minutes midway through the second half when we let in three!); in a nice touch after the match, the Birmingham Mail in its 'player ratings' analysis of the game everyone of them 10 out of 10.

A FEW 2020 THANK-YOU'S

I like to claim that FdM is just me and Liz, but the reality is a hell of a lot of people are involved in keeping things afloat - all the artists, of course, without whom things would be very quiet round here, but behind the scenes there are people like:

- Fran Ashcroft, mastering guru, who makes sense out of the countless compilations I throw at him to make sense of
- Rene at Clear Spot Distribution, who does a great job in getting FdM releases into the hands of shops and music fans across Europe
- the Record Industry team in the Netherlands and GZ in the Czech Republic, who press up everything - with hardly a glitch along the way
- Ben at Breed Media, who puts up with my countless requests for changes to vinyl orders, spots my errors and comes up with solutions
- Graeme at VP Online, who provides such as fast, efficient and friendly CD duping service
- Dale Simpson, a great designer who can turn a half-baked suggestion into a great design and and is another person who puts up with all my last-minute suggestions and changes - Stan Hilborn, Lord Litter and Gunter Bajtl, three DJs who regularly play massive amounts of Fruits de Mer tracks on their shows, god bless 'em
- Paul Meggs, who stops the FdM website from falling over, despite my best efforts
- Nick Leese at Heyday, who I hope will be back providing a great service to overseas club members in 2021

...and if I haven't mentioned you, it's not that I don't appreciate what you for FdM, it's just that the old memory is starting to falter

THE CD SORT-OUT - MORE LESSONS

"even if I live to 100, I'll never play more than 25% of the CDs I have"...make that closer to 10%, I've got to fit playing them in between all the vinyl!
- lot of work trips to Amsterdam from 2000 to 2010 resulted in quite a collection of releases on the Databloem label, which I must revisit
- while visits to Other Music in New York seems to be a source of a fair number of the 'unknown pleasures' albums
- those ambient albums continue to build up - how chilled could one person aspire to be?

THE GREAT CD SORT-OUT CONTINUES - A FEW LESSONS LEARNED

What have I learned so far?

- you can't have too many Sigur Ros albums (apparently)
- for a small label, April released a helluva lot of music
- ...but nowhere near as much as Fax
- 'unique' format CD sleeves that seemed a good idea at the time almost always weren't
- I have more CDs by Caravan than any other prog band
- my passion for ambient music in the 90s went on for a long, long time
- even if I live to 100, I'll never play more than 25% of the CDs I have - radical action is required
...one day

but there are a few genres I have to admit defeat on - life is too short, or at least the rest of mine is going to be - so I will never get to grips with rock'n'roll, rockabilly or cajun, and I'm sure there's more to come (or go)

THE GREAT CD SORT-OUT CONTINUES

and my 'sort them into genres' approach is already under pressure...

What genres do I choose? How many genres? What is the difference between IDM, techno and EDM? Electronica vs ambient vs chill-out? And once that's sorted, which bands go into each?

Genres have already become a mix of genres, labels and decades (a catch-all when I lose the will to live) and will no doubt evolve further as the 'unknown pleasures' section starts to overflow alarmingly

UNKNOWN PLEASURES

One of my jobs during the current lockdown (and probably the next one too) is to sort out my CDs, of which there are several thousand and all of which have been becoming more and more 'unsorted' over the last 10, maybe 20 years.
My start-point is simply to put them into genres - 70s prog, folk rock, krautrock, post rock, etc. It's a little concerning to find that one of the largest genres has turned out to be 'unknown pleasures' - albums I don't remember buying or playing, by artists I have no memory of.
More concerning is picking up a CD by a band I don't recall, staring at it for a while waiting in vain for some dim recollection of the when and why, and then giving up and finding two more albums by the same band - I must have liked them a lot at the time! I would play one of the albums, but that's phase 2.


HAPPY CHRISTMAS

What a sodding year it's been but at least it's nearly over and we have 2021 to look forward to, so have as good a Christmas as you can, stay safe and here's to a return to live music, festivals, record shops, record fairs, pubs, beer, meeting up with old friends and all that sort of stuff as early as possible next year

RECORD FAIRS RETURNING?

The Spitalfields Friday fair is back in London - next one is on December 18th, I'm very tempted (although I probably won't get to one until Jan 2021) as my latest attempt to swap cash for vinyl failed in Southampton - I only found one shop and that only stocked reissues - and even a vist to Ben's Records in Guildford proved fruitless (too many Christmas records on display for my liking!).

STOP PRESS: everything's shut down round here again so it's back to 'The Repair Shop' and knitting scarves.

CHEERS...

2020...it's been an exceptional one in so many ways, mostly exceptionally crap, so it's taking me a while to remind myself of, and summarise, some of the good stuff that's gone on in and around FdM Towers, such as...

- no summer festival, in fact no FdM gigs at all - it took a good few months before I realised how much I miss live music, meeting FdM friends, drinking decent beer...ok, so that's not a good thing, so what else has there been...?

- it's all for charidee...two wholly out-of-character acts of generosity with the 'We Are The Cellar Bar Resoration Society' LP & CD set which raised nearly £3,000 for the Cellar Bar, and 'The Darkest Voyage' which has generated £2,000 for the Red Cross Disaster fund; thinking about it, it was your generosity, not mine, as you bought the CDs and vinyl - ah well, I'll claim credit for anything

- new friends of the fish...one of my resolutions this year was to work with a bunch of new artists and I reckon I passed this challenge with over 30 acts new to FdM appearing on full-run FdM releases and a dozen or so more 'freshers' featured on members club compilation CDs

- the long and the short of it...the 'Darkest Voyage' 6CD set included three tracks that would each have happily filled two sides of an LP, while 'Life of Stanley' is a one-sided 7" with a total of about 2 1/2 minutes of music - talk about a rip-off

- talking of Professor Stanley Unwin, how many labels can claim to have released exclusive recordings by the good Professor?

...and then have a track on an Orb compilation put together by Dr Alex himself! Bloody ridiculous, eh?

- and how about getting Maxine Peake to lend her voice to a track on 'The Darkest Voyage'? Max has been a lovely fan of the label since I can't remember when and this was icing on the cake

- surpise giveaways? Not so easy this year as we had no FdM gigs where we could dish them out - but there was a Band For All Seasons jigsaw as a members club competition prize, we threw in a few unannounced posters and stickers along the way and there was something unexpected for anyone who ordered two sets of 'Head Music 2' from me; but must do better in 2021

- but then there's the sheer quantity of music released this year - on vinyl, on CDs, on Friends of the Fish projects - I reckon something around 30 hours of music that hadn't been on the label before - it must be our most prolific year ever; I hope you feel the quality hasn't slipped - but 2021 will DEFINITELY be quieter round here (even though it starts with another triple LP set!)

HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR RECORD COLLECTION

I went into the first lockdown determined to sort my collection out (a bit) but when we were allowed out for good behaviour, the idea went straight out of the window (as did we). Now I'm getting back into it (a bit, again) and I've given myself until the end of March to get everything sorted out into categories AND have a serious clear-out of duplicates, together with the unplayable and the unbelievable; I have SO MANY CDs!
I'm leaving the FdM shelves to last but hopefully I'll have an interesting box of 'oldies' for the 18th Dream stall.

A NEW CONTENDER FOR WORST FILM EVER?

'The Claw'. I love a b-movie, a sci-fi b-movie all the better; so why hadn't I seen 'The Claw' before? Recently shown on the Horror Channel, so no doubt it'll be on again soon, it combined terrible acting and unintelligible scientific explanations with the most ludicrous alien I've seen for many years - unmissable!


RIP UNCLE DES

I've just heard that Des O'Connor has died. At one point, he was my uncle although he married four times so I guess he was most people's uncle at some stage.
A favourite of my dad, we saw him headline a summer season show in Llandudno or Weston-Super-Mare when I was a little kid and I first learned what 'working an audience' meant - he was a past-master.


WORLD OF SPORT

It's pouring down and looks like it's going to stay that way all weekend so I settle down for a Saturday of armchair sport, only to find the England rugby game is on Amazon Prime, horse racing is rubbish and F1 is pointless; thank god for live international football on Sky so bring it on...San Marino vs Gibraltar.

HAVE I BEEN TO ANY GIGS THIS YEAR?

I really can't remember, if I have it was a bloody long time ago. I've taken live music for granted, and probably will again, but right now nights out at venues like the Half Moon, 100 Club, Thunderbolt and - of course - the Cellar Bar are my idea of heaven.

Here are some of our earlier ramblings.... PREVIOUS BLOGGINGS

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