AUK Features Editor Clint West writes: In our latest new feature, a selection of AUK writers will be rifling through their vinyl shelves to unearth the ‘Americana Vinyl Treasures’ from within their personal collections. We’re not necessarily talking hugely rare or valuable items, just stuff that’s interesting, nice to own and above all else, is a good listen.
In 1988 CD album sales overtook vinyl for the first time. That trend quickly accelerated and just two years later in 1990 CD album sales were outstripping vinyl sales by more than ten to one. With fewer and fewer vinyl copies being pressed the availability of original pressings nowadays is limited and some titles can reach high prices. Indeed, from around the mid-nineties until about 2010 many new releases were only issued on CD, so dominant was the format. Many of the more successful titles from that period have since been re-issued on vinyl for the first time and the advent of the ‘vinyl revival’ means that even more niche and cult albums are also getting a vinyl re-issue.
In 1990 Chuck Prophet, whilst still a member of Green on Red, released his first solo album ‘Brother Aldo’. It was released in the UK on Fire Records, distributed by Rough Trade. The vinyl catalogue number was FIRE LP22. It wasn’t a huge seller and those that did sell were largely CD copies. The album was not released in the USA until 1997 and then on CD only. The only vinyl copies in existence are therefore those pressed in the UK and Germany on its original release in 1990.
Recorded in San Francisco, the album is very recognisably Chuck Prophet with his distinctive voice and phrasing. There are some great songs on it, but I think it would be fair to say that he developed as an artist as time has moved on and has subsequently produced many more accomplished albums. Nevertheless, it is still well worth listening to (or revisiting). The front cover features a sepia photograph of a very young-looking Prophet, and the rear cover features the track listing and photos of Chuck Prophet and future wife Stephanie Finch who sings and plays on the album. It has a printed inner sleeve with track and musician details which reveals to us that Muscle Shoals legend Spooner Oldham played on a couple of the tracks.
Original UK copies currently fetch around £12 – £15 in decent shape. A mint or near-mint copy (if you can find one) would probably be approaching double that.
The original Fire CD goes for around £4 – £5 and the Cooking Vinyl 1998 CD re-issue fetches much the same. There are no extras on the re-issue.
The album was also issued on cassette, but this is very scarce. However, if you were to come across one, even with the revival of interest in that format, you’d be unwise to pay any more than £3 for it.