31 December 2012

Ebay Scoundrels and Fiends - with Marylebone Ensemble and The Square Pegs

Exhibit 1
Artist: The Square Pegs
Song: Love Me With All Your Heart b/w The Song Is You
Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1962

Despite the fact that I started this blog to promote the sheer fun you could have wading around second-hand record shops for obscure and unloved records, I freely admit that I'm a keen ebay user as well.  It's an irresistible site due to the sheer quantity and variety of material available - I could wait all year for a copy of Shocking Blue's "Send Me A Postcard" to turn up in my local Music and Video Exchange, or alternatively I could just bid on one of the many copies available that turn up online.

However, proper record stores are preferable if only because you can actually see what's being offered, and even if your view of what constitutes a disc in "Excellent condition!" differs from the owners, you can see the wear and tear with your very own eyes.  And also, if the shop dares to describe an Easy Listening LP as a "psychedelic must hear!!!" God help them the next time you're passing that way.  Ebay sellers do occasionally have tendencies to be a little less discerning in this respect, and whether it's because they're cloth eared or because they're just trying to make a quick buck, well, you be the judge.

Take this Square Pegs record as an example.  It was advertised as having a "Freakbeat B-side" by the seller, and given that it was starting at a low price I put a hasty bid on it.  In doing so, I completely failed to check the release date (1962) which would have given me a clue as to how searing the guitar-work on this number was likely to be.  I had let myself get over-excited by a faintly rebellious group name, and when this admittedly minty fresh demo 45 arrived in the post, I was dismayed by the noise I heard.  "The Song Is You" is almost odd in its decidedly straight approximation of a beat sound, consisting of vocal stylings Harry Secombe would doubtless have approved of on top of some very measured playing.  The A-side is a very ordinary ballad.  It's not the worst record I've ever bought in my life, but it's certainly not freakbeat, and I find it very hard to believe anyone could mistake at as being such.

(Scroll down for Exhibit B...)

Exhibit 2
Artist: The Marylebone Ensemble
Song: Porcelain/ Transplant
Label: Beacon
Year of Release: 1969

If the seller was to be believed, this effort is "psychedelic pop".  And again, I beg to differ.  What it actually is - on the A-side, at least - is a piece of easy listening which is sweet and sleepy, but a very odd choice for a 45.  Normally tracks such as these were buried on the many parent-attracting easy LPs that cluttered up the racks at Woolworths, not released as A-sides in the hope that they'd enjoy some radio play.

The B-side has possible leanings towards the mod side of things, however, in that it's an organ instrumental, albeit one that's so slow and steady in its tempo that it certainly wouldn't ignite much dancefloor movement.  It's not clear who the Marylebone Ensemble are, but my guess would be that it was a group name given to a bundle of session musicians who were hired on the day.

And that's as much depth as I'm prepared to go into on these two, I'm sorry to say.  As we approach the end of 2012, let's collectively hold both of them up as cautionary warnings, signs that we should take a deep breath, stop and think before we bid.  If that ultra-obscure 1966 single is going for a paltry sum in Excellent condition, it's usually not worth owning.  In my case, both of these will probably be charity-shop bound  in the New Year - I would put them up for sale again on ebay, but if I were actually honest about the contents I doubt they'd get off the block.


Lord Of The Boot Sale said...

I would buy them for the novelty content of the titles

23 Daves said...

Yes, that's often a weakness of mine as well!