Friday, 24 February 2017


This is the first in a series of posts that will celebrate leading American session guitarist and pioneer of electronic effects Vincent 'Vinnie' Bell.

One of the two or three greatest guitar geeks of the Space Age Pop era, Vinnie Bell will go down in musical history as the inventor of the 'water guitar sound' that was a big fad in instrumental recordings during the '60s.

Used most prominently on Ferrante and Teicher's 1969 Top Ten cover of the theme to "Midnight Cowboy", and on his own rendition of the "'Airport' Love Theme" in 1970, the effect became one of the most-copied technique among guitarists until the wah-wah pedal became standard equipment in the '70s. Among the other essential records that feature his trademark sound, we should at least mention Dick Hyman / Mary Mayo's "Moon Gas", released in 1963 and available here on Stereo Candies..

Originally a Brooklyn boy, born just about a mile from Coney Island, Bell started to learn to play the mandolin when he was four years old according to the old method: solfeggio and a good swat for every mistake. Then, at eight years of age came the switch to guitar, and at the ripe maturity of twelve years the start of his professional career.

His training was informal, but with some good teachers like Tony Mottola and Carmen Mastren. Mottola taught him the basic all-around fundamentals and made him his protégé, while Mastren taught him the rhythm guitar. He also studied under Everett Barksdale and Mickey Baker.

Long before any company commercially produced guitar effects pedals, Vinnie Bell was tinkering and inventing with his own electronic custom effects pedals for his guitars. He constantly invented new effects using fuzz distortion and wah-wah pedals, before anyone else had them. This gave him an edge over most other guitarists in the '60s recording world, and producers loved to bring him on their sessions to get his unique guitar effects.

Bell soon became an in-demand session guitarist. The list of artists who benefited from his work is huge and includes Louis Armstrong, Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Donovan, The Mamas & The Papas, The Four Seasons, The Lovin' Spoonful, Bobby Darin and many more...

As I'm still working to provide you with an extended biography, for the time being I strongly invite you to check this page on the great Space Age Pop website to read more information about him.

Vincent Bell as pictured on the back cover of his debut album, circa 1960

Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. Lead Guitar (1:45)
02. Quicksand (2:17)

Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in January 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original release.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.

Produced by Monte Bruce, the "Lead Guitar / Quicksand" single was released sometimes in early/mid 1960 by Independent Record Company, a small label distributed by Laurie Records, which only produced three Vincent Bell releases - all of them during the same year - and nothing else.

The single marks the debut of Vincent Bell as a solo artist, and was released before the album "The Soundtronic Guitar of Vincent Bell", whose release date is often wrongly placed in 1959. As a matter of fact, Billboard informed record dealers that such LP had a «limited sales potential» no earlier than November 21, 1960, so I guess that a late 1960 release date for the album is more correct. Anyway, how cruel is that? Isn't it...?

I guess that this single is one of the most rare Vincent Bell records. Although it is not worth a fortune, it took some time before I could lay my hands on it. My copy comes in a white sleeve and is sooooo wooooorn that I almost can't believe it plays without any skips on both sides, phew!

Since it was originally distributed by Laurie Records, it is more than speculation to believe that, at the time of release, the single came in a company sleeve similar to the one I decided to use in the first picture of this post.

Both tracks are composed by Bell and are credited to his birth name, Vincent Gambella, on the centre labels. The two short numbers on offer here are literally stuffed with effects and tricks that Bell had in part already adopted when he guested on a few releases during 1958-1959 (...namely "Jersey Bounce" by The Spacemen, "Smoke Rings" by The Overtones and "Barracuda" by The Gallahads - all of which will be posted here on Stereo Candies soon...) and that he will expand on his following full-lenght releases.

The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy "Lead Guitar" and "Quicksand"!

More information about Vincent Bell is available here:

If you have any other useful information about Vincent Bell - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


Giusto Pio, January 11, 1926 – February 12, 2017

«When I think about the events of my life and the wonderful people I met, I can only be grateful to God for what happened to me.»

[Giusto Pio, translated from the book "Dedicato a Giusto Pio"]

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


I've been on the road, I've been on vacation
I've been traveling light to reach my final destination
Now I'm coming home

So tell the girls that I am back in town, you'd better tell them to beware
Where they may go or they might try to hide, I follow on and I'll be there

So tell the girls that I am back in town, and if it's true I do not know
That every girl around had missed me since I decided to go

I could be your friend, I could be your stranger
I could be the one your mother said would be your danger
Now it's up to you

So tell the girls that I am back in town, you'd better tell them to beware
Where they may go or they might try to hide, I follow on and I'll be there

So tell the girls that I am back in town and if it's true I do not know
That every girl around had missed me since I decided to go

[excerpt from the lyrics of "So Tell the Girls That I'm Back in Town" by Jay-Jay Johanson, 1996]

Jay-Jay Johanson is one of my heroes. Yes, no less than that. So, what can I add? I remember the very first time I watched the promotional clip for his first single "It Hurts Me So" back in 1996: what a coloured and strong voice in such a pale and frail body!

The lyrics and general atmosphere of the song have instantly entrapped me in melancholy and I never recovered since then... No, seriously, I have thought about it many times and now I would like to publicly state that, in this life, Jay-Jay Johanson is the only worthy artist that I discovered stumbling by chance upon MTV at 3:00 a.m., really! Since then I enjoyed each and every album he has made and I never get tired of listening to them.

A few years ago, in the early days of the blog, I already dedicated a few posts to Jay-Jay and you can find them here. The collection of edits, remixes, live recordings, rare tracks, etc. that I'm delighted to feature in this post covers the years 1996-2000 or, if you prefer, his first three albums, namely "Whiskey", "Tattoo" and "Poison". Each of these releases is a trip hop M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E that can easily stand between Portishead's first two albums without being ashamed.

Jay-Jay Johanson at home in Stockholm, 1997

In his twenty-year career, Jay-Jay Johanson has released ten albums and is currently working on his eleventh full-lenght release that will be released sometimes in mid/late 2017. His latest available offering is entitled "Opium" and was released in 2015 on Kwaidan Records. Needless to say that it is another fine example of his great art and I strongly encourage you to check it out, you won't regret it.

The following review of "Opium" was written by French journalist Pierre Siankowski; it fairly summarize Jay-Jay's distinctive features and was used as the album's official press-release:

«It was in 1996 that Jay-Jay Johanson, a young man from a cold climate, fascinated by the Bristol sound they called trip-hop and Portishead in particular, first tapped delicately on our eardrums. The intoxicating album that definitively put this rare and elegant Swede on the map was called "Whiskey". It was the beginning of an enthralling adventure. In only a few songs he revealed a family tree that spread its roots far and wide: on one branch Lee Hazlewood, or pop from Talk Talk or Harry Nilsson, on the other John Coltrane with Johnny Hartman, and a whole army of calm jazz or symphonic recordings sampled from everywhere imaginable. Almost twenty years later he has returned with an incredible new album. This new release is called "Opium" and it contains the very essence of Johanson's music: an ease with inventing melodies, a voice that gently caresses, and the jacked up, heady rhythms that lift and carry the songs. From the peaceful harmonica opening of "Drowsy / Too Young To Say Good Night" to the smoke-wreathed love song "I Don't Know Much About Loving", via titles with a sporadic and light groove ("NDE", "Alone Too Long"), "Opium" is a courageous offering. Johanson opens his heart with fearlessness and modesty, gracefully lowering his guard and evoking the questions that torment men of his age: love, solitude, immaturity. The songwriting is unerring, the words have a suppressed poetry. This new Johanson is the work of a guy who has survived the avalanches, who is no longer looking for answers and is content to sketch out the perspectives in as many songs. Some titles are serious ("Harakiri"), but others immediately take up the reins casting a more gentle, peaceful light, like "Scarecrow," a collaboration with Robin Guthrie that would not have sounded out of place on a Cocteau Twins album, or of the strange positivity of "Be Yourself" or "I Love Him So". The strength of "Opium" is that it asks questions that don't necessarily have an answer; it offers a collection of songs freed from any certitude but which convince through their modesty, through their precision. In short, Jay-Jay at his best.»

Jay-Jay Johanson, 1997

Here's the tracklist of "Travelling Light 1996-2000":

Disc 1

01. It Hurts Me So (Single Edit) (4:14)
02. So Tell the Girls That I Am Back In Town (Radio Edit) (3:49)
03. Mana Mana Mana Mana (Bang Bang Remix) (4:09)
04. Milan. Madrid. Chicago. Paris. (Radio Edit) (3:52)
05. BANG BANG feat. JAY-JAY JOHANSON - Two Fingers (4:32)
06. She's Mine But I'm Not Hers (Remix by Cherno) (4:23)
07. Alone Again (Remix - An Arthur Ashe Experience) (3:31)
08. Keep It A Secret (Radio Edit) (4:01)
09. Believe In Us (Piano Mix by Laurent Levesque) (4:08)
10. I Fantasize of You (Black Session, 30.04.97) (5:40)
11. The Girl I Love Is Gone (Black Session, 30.04.97) (3:53)
12. It Hurts Me So (Black Session, 30.04.97) (4:54)
13. So Tell the Girls That I'm Back In Town (Black Session, 30.04.97) (5:06)
14. Mana Mana Mana Mana (Black Session, 30.04.97) (5:50)
15. I'm Older Now (Black Session, 30.04.97) (4:18)
16. Suicide Is Painless (Black Session, 30.04.97) (3:32)
17. BANG BANG feat. JAY-JAY JOHANSON - Two Fingers (Instrumental) (4:34)

Disc 2

01. It Hurts Me so (Live at Studio Eefinanny, Stockholm, 1997) (5:52)
02. Milan. Madrid. Chicago. Paris. (Live in Strasbourg, 15.11.97) (5:00)
03. Mana Mana Mana Mana (Live in Strasbourg, 15.11.97) (5:22)
04. I'm Older Now (Live in Strasbourg, 15.11.97) (4:16)
05. She's Mine But I'm Not Hers (Live in Strasbourg, 15.11.97) (3:24)
06. Keep It a Secret (Remix - A Tribute To Venus & Serena) (4:25)
07. Believe In Us (Trip Listening Mix by Amadeus Tapioka) (4:46)
08. Far Away (Radio Edit) (4:12)
09. She's Mine But I'm Not Hers (Remix by Robin Guthrie) (4:25)
10. Neon Lights (Kraftwerk cover) (5:43)
11. Fire (Deep Deep Wood Mix) (3:10)
12. La Confusion des Genres Theme (Vocal Version) (3:22)
13. La Confusion des Genres End Theme (Alone Again Remix 2) (3:47)
14. Seven Inch (Vocals by Sadie & Alex Wollf) (4:56)
15. Alone Again ('La Confusion des Genres' hidden track) (1:53)
16. It Hurts Me So (Kareokee Version) (6:12)
      FIDGET feat. JAY-JAY JOHANSON - Hey Little Sister (3:23)

All selections were compiled and mastered in late 2016 / early 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format along with printable artwork.

Before burning this compilation to CD-R using the provided CUE files you must convert the original FLAC audio file to WAV format using an appropriate software. Please have a look here if you need some help.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.

Some of the tracks contained on "Whiskey" - or more probably, the whole album - were recorded as early as 1994-1995, while "Poison" was probably already finished by the end of 1999... The "1996-2000" part in the title of this collection refers to the years the tracks were released for the first time. Here's more details about them:

tracks 1.01 and 2.16a are taken from "It Hurts Me So", CD single, 04.04.1996

track 1.02 is taken from the first edition of "So Tell the Girls That I Am Back In Town", CD single, 23.07.1996

track 2.16b is taken from Fidget's "Stop Losing", CD single, 1997

tracks 1.03 and 2.01 are taken from "Mana Mana Mana Mana", CD single, 1997

tracks from 1.10 to 1.16 were recorded live at Studio 105, Paris, France, 30.04.1997

tracks from 1.10 to 1.14 were remastered from "The Black Sessions #104", a CD-R bootleg released by Sangatte Records sometimes in 2004

track 1.15 is taken from the second edition of "So Tell the Girls That I Am Back In Town", CD single, 1997

track 1.16 is taken from "Un Automne 97", a various artists CD that was released as a supplement to French magaine Les Inrockuptibles in October 1997

tracks 1.05 and 1.17 are taken from Bang Bang's "Two Fingers", promotional CD single, 1998

track 1.04 is taken from "Milan. Madrid. Chicago. Paris.", CD single, 07.05.1998

tracks from 2.02 to 2.05 were recorded live in Strasbourg, 15.11.1997

tracks from 2.02 to 2.04 are taken from "Jay-Jay Goes Live", promotional CD single, 1998

track 1.06, 2.05 and 2.09 are taken from from "She's Mine But I'm Not Hers", CD single, 10.09.1998

tracks 1.07, 1.08 and 2.06 are taken from "Keep It a Secret", CD single, 11.02.2000

tracks 2.10 and 2.11 are bonus tracks taken the French edition of "Poison", CD, French edition, 11.04.2000

tracks 1.09 and 2.07 are taken from "Believe In Us", CD single, 05.07.2000

tracks from 2.12 to 2.15 are taken from "La Confusion des Genres", original soundtrack CD, 2000

track 2.08 is taken from "Best of 1996-2013", compilation CD, 2013

The following is a rich selection of original promotional clips, remixes and live tracks that are pertinent to the collection presented in this post, enjoy!

More information about Jay-Jay Johanson is available here:

All your inputs are more than welcome: you can reach me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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