Very Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good Plus

A Very Good Plus 100


The Very Good Plus forum evolved from a website called Vinyl Vulture which began in 2000 on Geocities and featured articles about searching for great music on vinyl that could, with luck, be found at car boot sales or in charity shops. 


Collecting second-hand vinyl in the 90s had already devolved into a niche pursuit. Vinyl Vulture articles on easy listening, library, Krautrock, soundtracks and budget label releases struck a familiar chord with younger collectors who trawled charity shops, boot sales and record shops searching for sounds on vinyl beyond mainstream pop, rock and chart music.


These were collectors who eschewed the known in favour of the unknown and were happiest needle-dropping on unfamiliar albums or buying cheap blind punts to discover new music on old records. When the website first appeared in 2000 collectors felt immediate affinity with the mantras of finding funk in unusual places and space and time measured by vinyl.


A popular Vinyl Vulture series called Lords Of Lounge focussed attention on on easy listening LPs by well-known composers and arrangers that could be purchased cheaply in charity shops. The series identified the funkiest tracks from LPs by James Last, Tony Hatch, Henry Mancini, Percy Faith, Nelson Riddle and Bert Kaempfert and many others. Being UK based the series went deeper to cherry pick through excellent LPs by British artists such as John Gregory, Harry Roche, John Keating, Nick Ingman, Alan Moorhouse,  Keith Mansfield and many more.


McDonaldHammond Gold Very Good PlusWendy and Bonnie GenesisVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusEnoch Light DisotequeVery Good PlusVery Good Plus

The 90s musical landscape


Many of these names  were already familiar to UK-based crate diggers whose formative years in the 80s and 90s were spent tuned in to the constantly shifting Post-Punk club landscape of Rare Groove, Funk, House, Hip Hop, Jazz, Psych, Mod and Easy Listening.


As the 80s ended rigid genre boundaries were being eroded at a growing number of forward thinking club nights. Some jazz DJs were beginning to weave Hip Hop into their sets and by the mid-90s DJs at clubs like Wendy May's Locomotion and Blow-Up packed dancefloors by spinning anything and everything. DJs and pirate radio stations favoured eclectic playlists over genre-bound ones catering for an older generation of club-goers who had subconciously rejected the formulaic beat of House, Rave and Techno which captivated their younger siblings. .


Even the notoriously conservative Record Collector magazine joined in. In February '93 Mark Paytress wrote: Until someone sees sense and begins to unearth the wealth of highly evocative 60s easy listening material (surely the big growth area for ‘93’?) these titles should still find a happy home with those collectors who still feel privileged when they pick up Ray Coniff, Johnny Mann Singers or Burt Bacharach-related albums for a song at jumble and car boot sales.  Their time will come. 


Following on from funk features in '93 and '94 it began a series of articles in May '95 called Diggin’ For Gold highlighting funky music to be found on albums by the likes of Shirley Bassey and Hugo Montenegro.

Soul StrutVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusDel ShannonVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good Plus

Hip Hop, Breaks, Pirates and Car Boots


The 'golden age' of hip-hop in the early 90s was a huge factor in broadening the tastes of forum pioneers prior to Web touchdown on sites like Vinyl Vulture and Soul Strut.


In the late 80s many had invested in the Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilations that outed breaks from the early days of hip-hop but creativity had moved on and samples were being taken from ever more esoteric sources. Seeking out these sample sources inadvertently opened the ears of young collectors to sounds they would not have otherwise discovered. Running parallel to this new creative entrepreneurs began producing fresh compilation LPs of rare or hard-to-find tracks used by 90s Hip Hop producers. Pirate compilations, (which we refer to on this site as 90s Boots) became a permanent fixture in independent vinyl record shops. With content initially revolving around a jazz, soul, funk and Latin axis they were a cheap way of getting rare tracks on vinyl and later evolved to include hard to find library, easy listening, rock and psych tracks. For some people the track listings on these illegal compilations served as Wants Lists, further fuelling their desire to find and own original LPs.


Fortuitously for all concerned the music industry declared vinyl records as dead in 1990 and was successful in persuading the British public to buy CDs instead. As the 90s dawned serendipity saw the number of car boot sales across the UK suddenly multiply, delivering mountains of second-hand records at bargain prices from people discarding space-consuming vinyl in favour of CDs. Tales of boot hauls were legion. In the 21st century this fascination with trophy hunting manifested itself online as Finds threads which are still hugely popular to this day.

Very Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusChristine HarwoodVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusVery Good PlusBjVery Good Plus

Music forum pioneers


Having expended a great deal of energy exploring many different genres the UK's first music forum pioneers alighted on Vinyl Vulture at the dawn of the 21st Century laden with hard-won knowledge from years of digging the crates.


A few had cut their internet teeth earlier on mailing lists such Exotica, Shindig and Cherry Smash but the new message board technology superceded these by providing a permanent platform for trading enthusiasm, information and knowledge 24 hours a day and at whatever time was most convenient. Some expressed it was a Eureka moment to suddenly discover there were like-minded souls afflicted with vinyl collecting habits forged from similar experiences. Vinyl Vulture succeeded in being the one of the first internet sites and forums to collate, stratify and share UK crate-digging information in fixed articles and permanently recorded conversations.


 The Soul Strut website launched a year earlier was the US equivalent. Both arrived at a time when the number of people connecting to the World Wide Web was growing at a stratospheric rate.  In the space of a few years hundreds of crate diggers rooted themselves online with a significant number being members of these and several other music forums


Despite being populated by similar-minded and in some cases, the same people, each forum developed into a unique community with its own topics, language, emoticons and sense of humour. The respective musical canons of Very Good Plus, Soul Strut and Waxidermy are also unique. Only a handful of albums appear in two or more of these charts.

Very Good PlusVery Good PlusTed Heath The Big OnesGroupie Girl OST


Trader HornePete Moore Exciting SoundsBlossom DearieTerry Cavendish LeaguelinerBert Kaempfert NowAphrodites Child 666Bang On A DrumViolent Violins Michel Legrand

Vinyl Vulture website & collective nostalgia


Unsurprisingly the Very Good Plus canon presented here contains a preponderance of albums that originally featured in articles on the now defunct Vinyl Vulture website. In this respect it's a display of collective nostalgia.


When forum pioneers arrived there was reading and record pron aplenty to digest. Even the most diligent boutique diggers, charity shop trawlers and mailing list subscribers didn't know everything. In a similar fashion to the Waxidermy and Soul Strut canons certain records attained mythical status and many were those that first featured on the sites.


James Last - Voodoo Party is here though Hair or Beach Party would have sufficed. There are good and funky tracks on several of his LPs but to VG+ members he is emblematic of the finding funk in unusual places mantra. Over the years both website articles and forum members have uncovered funky, play-out tracks by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Liberace, Cliff Richard, Liza Minelli, Anita Harris and a host of other celebritries more commonly associated with dull MOR albums. The cabaret group Grumbleweeds - Teknikolor Dream LP still arouses astonishment in many. A second-rate 70s UK TV comedy group recording a psych LP? Add the fact it's hard to find too and its place in the VG+ canon is assured.


On an extremely hard to find tip The Gentle Rain - Moody is a universally acclaimed VG+ classic and no reasonable explanation has yet surfaced as to why this 70s easy listening LP on a budget label is so damned rare.

Tony Hatch Sounds Of The 70sThis Is Easy PolydorHarry SouthHal Vincent Baldwin SoulRupert and the FirebirdAir EmbryoTwo Generations The Simon SoundBonnie DobsonElaineRoger Coulam Sounds To Spoil YouMandy More

Shifting patterns


The presence of so many unexpected LPs with funky tracks on only highlights the absence of many classic funk, soul, jazz and Latin albums of the kind that populate the Soul Strut 100.


And there's the rub. Starting marginally earlier than VG+ many dedicated crate diggers and break heads had already cathected with, sought out and collected many of the WOF '95 * funk, soul, jazz and Latin LPs that had been sweated in the 90s. Discussed reverentially for years albums by 24 Carat Black, Funk Inc, Skull Snaps, David Axelrod, and Dorothy Ashby were already an unlisted but separate canon lodged deep in the conscious of crate diggers prior to the dawn of forums. It's the same reason why the VG+canon does not contain many classic golden age Hip Hop LPs.


The public sharing of finds in threads on a daily basis established a collective frontier spirit which celebrated the discovery of new finds over the flossing of known ones and from year to year different genres took centre stage. Over 15 years interest in easy listening, funk, and library records expanded to embrace ever deeper veins in jazz, Latin, folk, fuzz, psych and private press releases. Focus shifted from US and UK pressed finds to Eastern Europe, Africa and beyond. Nowadays members are uncovering fresh sounds from the 80s and 90s and continually introduce fresh areas to share knowledge about.


* WOF '95: = Wall Of Fame 1995. It refers to LPs that appeared on the walls of record shops in the mid-90s as breaks collecting peaked and an unlisted canon established itself. See Forumusic > Canons > '94 WOF

Voices In Latin Barbara MooreHildegard Knef KnefJohn Fiddy Dum DumLinda Perhacs ParallelogramsBob DownesJimmy Pryde Pipe DreamsUnitedPop Sounds The CoolJazz Goes BaroqueVery Good PlusVery Good Plus

Construction of the Very Good Plus 100


Unlike Soul Strut and Waxidermy no poll was conducted to formulate this Very Good Plus 100.  Instead Forumusic collated LPs from older threads around the theme of ‘What records did you discover via VG+?’ and a recent one entitled  ‘List Fever !!! List LPs you associate with this site.’ 


In addition to this we trawled long threads from the past about particular releases to include LPs that resonated at different times. Trader Horne - Morning Way is undoubtedly an excellent LP but its failure to materialise physically after advance orders were taken launched a long and salty thread.


Andy Votel - Songs In The Key of Death, an excellent rapid fire CD mix of best bits from obscure records triggered a can we name all the tracks? style thread that ran intermittently for years after starting in 2004.


To mark the number of popular charts posted up by jazz afficianados like alanmck and folkishienne, British jazz appeared significantly under-represented so Don Rendell & Ian Carr - Dusk Fire have been added here. In conversation with VG+ers the subject of music discovered on 90s Boots crops up repeatedly hence the inclusion of the '94 classic Nuggets Of Funk.


Attempting to add too many placeholder LPs to this canon to represent all the music discussed on VG+ would destroy its primary function as a visual representation of the collective nostalgia of regular members but Minnie Riperton – Come Into My Garden containing the extraordinary Les Fleurs is here in remembrance of much-missed VG+ member Towny.


Gangster Movie VibrationsMike Sammes Love Is A Happy ThingJohn Keting Space ExperienceVery Good PlusDrama SuiteLemon Dips Whos Gonna Buy Discotheque The Four InstantsDaly Wilson Big BandMaxwell PlummLos DouradosGal Costa

Very Good Plus 100: What's missing?


Whilst we feel this display represents the collective nostalgia of VG+ members, popular threads and collecting patterns that have occurred in its lifetime; no constructed canon, by poll or other means could  ever fully reflect the life of a living, breathing forum.


There have for example been hundreds of great threads over the years about 45rpm singles.  In addition to the incredible variety on annual CD Swaps there have been Disco and House Swaps, a group-collated Kids Compilationseveral excellent Best of VG+ compilations and a 3CD set consisting purely of Harpsichord and Flute tracks.


The most recent VG+ Swap features several compilations of 80s music, and European Jazz. In the same way the Waxidermy 100 stretched beyond that number, any VG+ forum member could peruse this feast of great LPs and point out others that should rightfully be included.  



Ian Townsend

January 2014



If you like this article you may also like:

Soul Strut 100

Waxidermy 100

'95 WOF


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