Fragmented Frequencies October 2016

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The price of vinyl is based on scarcity, not quality. There is just one scratchy 78 of the Long ‘Cleve’ Reed & Harvey Hull (Down Home Boys) 1927 murder ballad ‘Original Stack O’Lee Blues’ in existence. If you want one prepare to cough up $60,000, and that’s if its obsessive owner will sell it to you. It’s pretty obscene, particularly as the tune is near indistinguishable from numerous other examples of ‘race music’ recorded at the time. But I digress, I want to go the other way and talk about how thanks to a cigarette company you can get a taut slab of 70’s jazz funk for a dollar. Founded in 1968, drummer Warren Daly, fresh from touring the US with the Glen Miller band returned to Australia and hooked up with trombonist/ arranger Ed Wilson to form an 18-piece big band fusing, jazz, funk and rock. Due to their size, the Daly Wilson Big Band initially struggled financially and disbanded in 1971, but were rescued in 1973 by the benevolence of the Benson and Hedges company, who’s logos would adorn four of their next five albums. Sampled by DJ Shadow, their cover of ‘Also sprach Zarathustra,’ retitled ‘Space Odyssey – 2001’ is a psychedelic funky freak-out, whilst the urban 70’s noir of ‘Theme from Swat’ was sampled by DJ Q-bert and ‘Dirty Feet’ by Mobb Deep. Whilst Benson & Hedges pulled their funds in 1983 and the band ultimately disbanded, their legacy lives on in a ridiculous amount of op shops around the country. Seriously, you can find an album in pretty much every one.

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