Sounds Of The Unexpected.

Label: Ace Records.

Ever since she was teenager growing up in Southend-on-Sea, on the Thames Delta, Vicki Fox loved music and was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable  collector of vinyl. It was no surprise that when Vicki Fox moved to London, she would embark upon a career in the music industry.

One of Vicki Fox’s first jobs was working on Ted Carroll’s market stall in Goldborne Road. At first, Vicki Fox sorted through the burgeoning selection of records on the stall, and even kept Ted Carroll supplied with bacon sandwiches. It may not have been the most glamorous job, but it was good experience and stood Vicki Fox in good stead for the future.

While many people would’ve been keen to spread their wings, Vicki Fox spent over thirty years working for Ted Carroll’s Rock On Records, which by 1975, had three outlets. By then, Ted Carroll had cofounded Ace Records with two of his friends Roger Armstrong and Trevor Churchill.

Later, Vicki Fox would also work at Ace Records. She spent the majority of her career at Rock On Record and Ace Records. That was apart from a brief sojourn at Island Records where Vicki Fox worked as a photographer’s assistant. However, Vicki Fox returned to Rock On Record/Ace Records family where she would spend the remainder of her career.

During her time at Ace Records, Vicki Fox put her encyclopaedic knowledge to good use. Especially when she was involved in compiling records, including Feline Groovy in 20008 and All Aboard! 25 Train Tracks Calling At All Musical Stations which was released in 2015. Sadly, by then tragedy had struck and Vicki Fox when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.

Despite this devastating blow, Vicki Fox bravely battled cancer for the next six years. She continued to work, and even began compiling a new compilation of instrumentals, Sounds Of The Unexpected. Soon, it was starting to take shape. A few songs were still awaiting clearance, and the artwork was almost complete. Vicki Fox worked on Sounds Of The Unexpected right up until the final weeks of her life.

When Vicki Fox entered hospital for what proved to be the final time, she took with her the proofs to the artwork to Sounds Of The Unexpected. She wanted to check them one last time before approving the artwork. Vicki Fox was a perfectionist, and was determined that Sounds Of The Unexpected would be released.

Sadly, within a few days, Vicki Fox had fallen into a coma and passed away shortly afterwards. For everyone at Ace Records, this was a huge loss, as Vicki Fox had been a familiar face for three decades.

After the death of Vicki Fox, a decision had to be made about the Sounds Of The Unexpected compilation. Cofounder of Ace Records Roger Armstrong and Tony Berrington, who was Vicki Fox’s partner decided to complete Sounds Of The Unexpected. They ensured that Sounds Of The Unexpected which was lovingly curated by Vicki Fox was recently released by Ace Records. 

Sounds Of The Unexpected features twenty-four instrumentals chosen by Vicki Fox’s eclectic record collection. Going by the track listing she had impeccable musical taste. There’s tracks by Jan Davis, The Atlantics, Timmy Thomas, Gabor Szabo, Bo Diddley, Big Walter and The Thunderbirds, Leonard Nimoy, Jean-Jacques Perrey, The Martinis, The Upsetters, The Ventures and The Zanies. It’s an intriguing and eclectic selection of instrumentals from the sixties and seventies.

The name Jan Davis means different things to different people. For some, he’s best known for his work with B. Bumble and The Stingers or The Ventures, while others know Jan Davis for his flamenco guitar songs and film scores. Jan Davis also enjoyed a solo career, and in 1964, released Watusi Zombie on Holiday Records. It’s a captivating mixture surf guitar, searing saxophone  and a myriad of percussion. It sets the bar high for the rest of Sounds Of The Unexpected.

Anyone who enjoys surf guitar wizardry will enjoy The Atlantics’ contribution War Of The Worlds. For those unfamiliar with The Atlantics, they’re regarded as Australia’s greatest instrumental band, and released War Of The Worlds on CBS in March 1964. It also featured on their 1964 album The Explosive Sound Of The Atlantics. This is a fitting description of War Of The Worlds up until 1.44. After that, it almost becomes understated, before paying homage to The Shadows and later, Dick Dale before the track revisits  The Explosive Sound Of The Atlantics. 

Timmy Thomas is best known for his 1972 hit single on the Glades label, Why Can’t We Live Together? Tucked away on the B-Side was Funky Me which was penned and produced by Timmy Thomas. It pioneers the use of a drum machine, while Timmy Thomas unleashes a fleet fingered solo on the Hammond organ. It’s proof that it’s always worth checking the B-Side of a single for hidden musical treasure.

In 1967, Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo covered Duke Ellington’s Caravan for his album Jazz Raga which was produced by Bob Thiele and released in Impulse! It features drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and bassist Johnny Gregg. Meanwhile, Gabor Szabo switches between guitar and sitar as he and his small band combine elements of blues, jazz, psychedelia and Indian ragas on this lysergic, otherworldly and innovative genre-melting track. It’s one of the highlights of Sounds Of The Unexpected, a reminder of Vicki Fox’s impeccable musical taste.

The Tornados are best known for the Joe Meek production Telstar. Joe Meek also wrote and produced The Tornados’ single Hot Pot. It  was released on Decca in February 1964, but failed to replicate the success of Telstar. Despite that, Hot Pot is a reminder of pioneering producer Joe Meek, and his talented house band The Tornados who played on the majority of his productions.

Big Walter was a truly talented bluesman, who sadly, passed away in 2012. He cut a number of R&B singles during the fifties, and later, recorded a number of sides for the Goldband, label. That wasn’t all. He released a number of singles as Big Walter and The Thunderbirds. This included Watusie Freeze Part 1 which was released on the short-lived Myrl label in 1959. Watusie Freeze Part 1 which fuses surf rock and exotica and features Albert Collins on lead guitar. Sadly, the single failed to make any impression on even the regional charts. Two years later, The Vibrations enjoyed a hit with Watusie Freeze Part 1 which launched a dance craze.

Leonard Nimoy’s Music To Watch Space Girls By was taken from the 1967 album Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space. It was released by Dot Records and combines easy listening, lounge and sci-fi sounds. This is a potent combination, and one that epitomises that sixties easy listening sound.

The Nashville based Do-Ra-Me label was founded in the late fifties and was around until the early sixties. In 1960, The Imps a Nashville based band released their one and only single Uh-Oh. It was penned by Mary Biggs and Eddie Stuteville and features some stunning guitar licks as The Imps combine blues, rock and rockabilly. Sadly, despite oozing quality this hidden gem failed to make any impression on the charts, and The Imps never released another single. 

Jean-Jacques Perrey was one of the early pioneers of electronic music. He was born in France, and was a medical student when he first met Georges Jenny, inventor of the Ondioline. This meeting resulted in Jean-Jacques Perrey turning his back on medicine, and travelling the length and breadth of Europe demonstrating the Ondioline, which was a predecessor of the synth. By 1970, Jean-Jacques Perrey was just about to release his seventh solo album Mood Indigo on Vanguard. One of the highlights was the title-track Mood Indigo, where musical pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey created a truly innovative instrumental that he believed was the of tomorrow. Forty-seven years later, and Mood Indigo still sounds way ahead of the music many other electronic music pioneers were making.

The Martinis released a couple of singles during 1967, and were led by a familiar face from the Memphis music scene…Packy Axton. His mother Estelle Axton founded Stax Records, and Packy Axton had been an original member of The Mar-Keys. Since then, Packy Axton had recorded a number of tracks for a variety of record labels. This included Hung Over which was released in September 1967 on the Bar label and features the future Hi rhythm section. Hung Over is a laid-back and soulful instrumental, with the Hammond organ, guitar and saxophone playing leading roles in its sound and success. Adding authenticity is what’s meant to be the sound of Packy Axton vomiting in the vocal booth. Sadly, his lifestyle caught up with him seven years later, when Packy Axton died from compilations caused by his alcoholism.

Over the years, Vicki Fox amassed a large collection of reggae, so it’s no surprise that she decided to choose a reggae instrumental. She was spoilt for choice, and chose The Upsetters’ Long Sentence which features on Lee Perry’s 1971 album Africa’s Blood. It was released on Trojan Records. At the heart of this carefully crafted instrumental is Glen Adams’ organ playing, which transforms the track. As a result, it’s one of The Upsetters’ best contributions to Africa’s Blood.

Closes Sounds Of The Unexpected is The Zanies’ Russian Roulette. It was released in 1962, on Dore which was owned by comedian turned musical impresario Lew Bewdell. By 1962, The Zanies had been together four years, and featured Earl Palmer. Russian Roulette drew inspiration from The Volga Boat Song, and found The Zanies combine finger clicks, handclaps, a braying saxophone and jangling piano on one of their most memorable singles. It closes Sounds Of The Unexpected in style, as The Zanies combine music and humour. This compiler and Ace Records’ stalwart Vicki Fox would’ve enjoyed and approved of.

Sadly, Vicki Fox didn’t live long enough to see Sounds Of The Unexpected released by Ace Records. After her death, Ace Records cofounder Roger Armstrong and Vicki Fox’s partner Tony Berrington, decided to complete Sounds Of The Unexpected. They ensured that Sounds Of The Unexpected was lovingly curated tribute to Vicki Fox. It reflects the music she loved and collected during her long and successful career within the music industry. 

During her career, Vicki Fox did a variety of jobs, including compiling two critically acclaimed compilations. The first was  Feline Groovy in 2008, with All Aboard! 25 Train Tracks Calling At All Musical Stations following in 2015. Now two critically acclaimed compilations become three with the release of Sounds Of The Unexpected. 

It features twenty-four tracks from old friends, familiar faces and a few new names. That is not all. Quite simply, Sounds Of The Unexpected oozes quality and features an intriguing selection of eclectic music from Vicki Fox’s vast record collection. Going by the twenty-four tracks on Sounds Of The Unexpected, Vicki Fox obviously had impeccable musical taste. 

Her impeccable taste is apparent from the opening bars of Jan Davis’ Watusi Zombie to the closing notes of The Zanies’ Russian Roulette. In between these two tracks, Vicki Fox dug deep into her record collection for what she must have known would be the final compilation she would compile. As a result, she chose each and every track on Sounds Of The Unexpected with the utmost care. Sounds Of The Unexpected can only be described as a lovingly curated compilation that reflects Vicki Fox’s enthusiasm, knowledge and love of music. That shines through on Sounds Of The Unexpected, which was Vicki Fox’s parting gift to music lovers everywhere.

Sounds Of The Unexpected.

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