The Cheese Stands Alone

CheeseI feel as though I need to explain myself a bit. When coming up with topics here at The Prudent Groove, I need a touch of inspiration. Since I have over 2600 albums to choose from, the number of options gets to be daunting and ultimately discouraging. In other words, I need to be moved in order to write about something. So last night I’m at the grocery store, right? I see a sale on individually wrapped cheese sticks, 3 for $0.99. Decent price, ok, cool. Instantly, the hamster inside my head begins to churn, “Well, each stick is roughly $0.33 1/3 cents… Cheese… 33 1/3 RPMs… I SHOULD WRITE ABOUT LESS THAN JAKE’S CHEESE RECORD!” And with that thought, this post was born.

Leave it to Florida natives, Less Than Jake to dairy-ify an 80’s classic like Twisted Sister’s, We’re Not Gonna Take It. Limited to 1000 copies, this glorified 2 track 7” is aged to perfection and is now a ripe 15 years old (having been released in 1998). I purchased this copy at one of the many Less Than Jake performances I attended in Milwaukee. I think Kemuri was the opening band, but I don’t’ remember. What I DO remember is catching hell from my buddy, Neal for not picking up a LTJ Cheese record for him… I still feel bad about that to this day. (Religious guilt.)

The music is straightforward Ska-Punk-Pop that LTJ is known for. Rage, then break for horns… Rage, then break for horns… End. It sounded better when I was 19.

Side A: Cheese

Side B: We’re Not Gonna Take It

It’s interesting how certain bands spawn specific memories, be it however mundane or insignificant. For me, Twisted Sister has always been linked to the Hollywood Video in Milwaukee where I used to work. On one of my shifts, Mark Metcalf (The Maestro on Seinfeld) came in to rent a video and even though I had to look up his name, I distinctly recognized him as the pissed off, music hating father from the We’re Not Gonna Take It video.  I think that song, this record, and video renting in general will always be intertwined within the vast, vacant openness that is my brain. What does that have to do with Less Than Jake? Absolutely nothing, and I’m fine with that.

“We’re not gonna take it!” You’re not gonna’ take it?! Really? You’re not gonna’ take cheese?!!! Who wouldn’t take cheese? Are you lactose? This breaks a Wisconsin boy’s heart!

Insert

Notice the two types on the insert.

From Sunshine Superman to Ben Lee and the Skye In Between

DonovanOk, so, I hope you’ve had your coffee this morning because you’ll need to follow along… if you’re a Beastie Boys fan, you may already know SOME of this tale.  Ready? Here we go…

So, Donovan… Hurdy Gurdy Man, Sunshine Superman, Season of the Witch, Mellow Yellow, etc. THAT Donovan… You know the one… anyway so Donovan had a kid, right? Well, he had four kids, but one, KEY kid with American girlfriend, Enid Stulberger who they named Ione Skye Leitch, later to become known across American film screens as Ione Skye (remember Say Anything… ?). Ok, so, Ione Skye is Donovan’s daughter, with me so far? So, little Ione grew up, as kids do, and she became involved with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ front man, Anthony Kiedis shortly before… wait for it, marrying Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) of Beastie Boys fame. Ok, that makes sense. Beautiful jet-setting daughter of legendary songwriter gets involved with late 80’s bad boys… understandable… moving on. In 1992 (think Check Your Head) Ione marries Ad-Rock. That same year the Beastie Boys launch their own record label, Grand Royal Records. Pay attention because this is going to get crazy. In 1994 Grand Royal signed Ben Lee (of Noise Addict notoriety). Ben had four releases on Grand Royal, Noise Addict with three.

(Recap: Ione = Donovan’s daughter and Ad-Rock’s wife. Ben Lee = signed to Beastie Boys’ label, Grand Royal.)

Cut to 2008… Grand Royal is defunct (seemingly bankrupt), Ione Skye and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock, KEEP UP!) are divorced and Ben Lee is set to wed Ione Skye… LESS THAN A YEAR LATER THEY HAVE A CHILD!

(Updated recap: Donovan + chick = Ione Skye. Ione Skye + Adam Horovitz marry. Adam Horovitz + Beastie Boys create Grand Royal Records. Grand Royal Records sign Ben Lee. Ione Skye + Adam Horovitz split. Ione Skye + Ben Lee marry, have child.)

This little bit of useless knowledge may be worthless to the layperson (eff them), but I swear, I about lost my $hit when I found this out. I can see Grand Royal reunions being a bit awkward these days, if in fact there ARE Grand Royal reunions. I imagine it to be one of those, “if a tree falls in the woods” type of things. If an Adam and an Ione and a Ben are in the same room together, do they talk to each other?

Ben Lee

This post has caused the elevator in my brain hotel to break down. It’s just as well.

Album Review: The English Beat – I Just Can’t Stop It

Beat CoverWhy the works of The English Beat weren’t more prevalent during the Ska resurgence in the mid-to-late 90’s in rural Wisconsin is far beyond my feeble comprehension. With unknown bands like Skapone, The Skolars and The Parka Kings gaining constant play among me and my friends, the far superior talents of 6 early 80’s upbeat Ska professionals went ignorantly overlooked. Saxa, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everette Moreton, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling… I am forever sorry for the immature neglect I bestowed upon your great, but limited works.

This album starts off with an atom bomb (or a whisky shot to your ear’s liver) with the now famous (thanks to its picture perfect usage in 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank) Mirror in the Bathroom. Catchy, upbeat Ska that makes any listener want to skank like an adolescent fool, this track, and much of this, their first album, digs a deep groove of head-bobbing, jive-swaying bowl-full-of-happy-time moments that don’t seem to get old some 33 years after their initial release.

Highlighted moments throughout this album will bounce around your head like a 22 caliber bullet. With the above mentioned Mirror in the Bathroom, Twist & Crawl and the side 1 ending, Click Click, I Just Can’t Stop It could easily work as the band’s greatest hits album save for the regrettably missing March of the Swivel Heads made famous for its use in the 1986 John Hughes classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ska, as a whole, understandably, isn’t a genre for the masses. But I challenge any willing reader to embark on this creative milestone of positive grooves and NOT dig just about every Surf-Rock influenced, Rastafarian-vibe, bass-heavy, foot-tapping, good-ol’-fashioned-merry music found in this 1980 Sire Records release.

End of side 1

Beat BackMan, The English Beat make me wish I had a swimming pool to wade in and drink my pitcher of Mojitos. I’d settle for the kiddie pool in which we used to wash my Grandparent’s dog. There’s just something about this music that touches upon the “fun in the sun” pleasure spots. Do you know where your “fun in the sun” pleasure spots are? Go ahead. Touch them. You’ll thank me.

This album is pretty tightly produced, and is overall pretty slick. It’s evident these guys practiced a few times before recording this album, which, makes sense if you think about it. The only criticism I would offer is that the majority of the songs sound alike. That can be a good and a bad thing. If you’re into strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles, then you’ll likely want all the strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles you can get. This album, not unlike strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles is a specific palate, but oh, boy, what a palate it is!

On the back cover is a picture of a short skirt-wearing chick holding an album while standing next to a New Age looking turntable. The album in her hands? Why, I Just Can’t Stop It, of course. She’s got a smile on her face, which implies that the music from this album will cause you to smile as well! Some subtle marketing can go a long way.

So, ok, bottom line: GET THIS ALBUM!

End of side 2

Wax Trax! Records Insert from 1989

Wax FrontCheat post alert!

Although it is my first, this will NOT be my last post about Wax Trax! Records. Presented is an insert found in my 1989 copy of Front 242’s EP, Never Stop. This was Front 242’s last release on Wax Trax!, having released such groundbreaking albums on the label such as Geography (WAX 034), Face to Face (WAX 054) and Endless Riddance (WAX 004) among several others. My affection towards Front 242, and Wax Trax! specifically cannot be explained without consulting a professional shrink. That, I am, for now, okay with.

Track Review: Cookin’ With ALF

ALF FrontRemember when coupons were records? Coupons… Those redeemable offers usually printed on paper. Remember when you could play your coupon on your turntable and jam out to a new song by your favorite prime time television puppet sponsored by your favorite fast food burger joint? (Dammit do I miss the 80’s!)

So, in my research for this post (research which I almost never do), I discover a hidden corner of the interwebs called, ALF Wiki. I know, right? A fuggin’ ALF Wiki page. (Dammit I’m happy to live in the present!) Anyhoo, the good folks over at ALF Wiki offer some insight into this obscure release. In 1988, Burger King (with their old logo) had a promotion for a plush ALF doll, complete with chef’s hat and “Cookin’ with ALF” apron. The paper record, or flexi-disc (sorry if I’m dumbing it down for you) accompanied the plush doll and offered $3 off on up to five eligible ALF plush toys manufactured and distributed by Coleco Industries, Inc. (from 6/1/88 to 1/31/89). Apparently the offer was only good for the 18” ALF toy (Coleco item No. 6601) and, here’s the rub: mixing and matching of other Alf products was NOT allowed. NO MIXING AND MATCHING, KIDS! DO IT RIGHT OR NO ALF COOKING FOR YOU!

I have to wonder how many people, after having just finished their delicious Whopper (with diabetic fries and diet Love Handles cola) ran to their local K-Mart (or Shopko) and bought five, 18” ALF dolls. That’s 7’ 6” of ALF, people! My guess is not too many, but I may be underestimating the popularity of the 18″ plush ALF market.

Cookin’ with ALF is described, in gory detail, by the informative, yet unplayable B-side. A balloon protruding from ALF’s mouth (nose, beak, whatever-the-fugg-it-is) reads, “What do you get when you combine a cooking show with rap music? Rap cooking! Ha! Dig it!” And since the “rap song” was offered by a “restaurant,“ the alien, technically isn’t wrong. So, with the term Rap cooking in mind, I invite you to indulge.

I’VE NEVER HEARD SO MUCH BASS FROM A PIECE OF PAPER!!

I’ll conclude this epic post (not taking myself seriously) with the flexi-disc playing instructions found under the grooves. Remember, kids, this is a piece of paper… that plays music… on your turntable. The digital world can collectively kiss my ass! (He said on a blog post on the internet, half ironically, half sarcastically.)

ALF BackInstructions:

1. Place phonograph on manual setting at 33 1/3 rpm.

2. Wipe record with clean cloth before each use.

3. Place coin near record center if record slips.

4. For best results bend record so it lies flat.

To remove coupon – bend at perforation and tear off gently.

Thanks to Jason Hardwick, of FILLintheBLANK fame, for this record.

Totes, Bra

SW ToteI’m in the market for a portable turntable, so if anybody has any suggestions please let me know. For said future turntable will be this companion piece, a brother-in-arms at 45 caliber, if you will (or if you won’t, it’s totes up to you).

Perfect for kids of all ages, this Star Wars Record Tote (made in 1982) holds around 25 45s and is surprisingly durable. I keep my Read-Along records in this guy, but certainly plan on toting him around on picnics when I find my portable player.

Also, if you ever hear anyone pronounce “totally” as “totes,” smack them in the head. Smack them in the head and do it hard… hurt your hand hard, you dig?

From Los Angeles to San Francisco

photoI’ll be up in SF for a few days, but still wanted to submit my daily post. While up here, I thought I’d comment on SF bands that I find interesting (idea by Jason Hardwick). So, here is a list of a few SF area bands that I dig, with a youtube vid link to accompany them. Enjoy!

Blue Cheer

Their version of Summertime Blues is considered, by some, to be the first “Heavy Metal” track ever recorded. Blue Cheer formed in 1967.

Dead Kennedys

Riddled with legal battles throughout their tenure (mainly 1985’s obscenity trial over the artwork from their Frankenchrist release), the Dead Kennedys were among the first US based Hardcore bands to gain discernible popularity in England. They formed in 1978.

Faith No More

Starting in 1981 under the name, Faith No Man, Faith No More saw a revolving door of lead vocalists until landing Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton in 1988. 1992’s Angel Dust was considered to be highly influential throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Their recent reunion notwithstanding, they parted ways in 1998.

Huey Lewis and the News

Gaining popularity at almost galactic proportions, HL&N were a personal favorite of mine throughout my childhood. Huey’s cameo in Back to the Future still makes me chuckle. Huey’s real name is Hugh Anthony Cregg.

Jefferson Airplane

The first from the SF area to gain mainstream success during the psychedelic rock boom, Jefferson Airplane would morph into Jefferson Starship, then regrettably, just Starship. They formed in 1965 and ended their initial run in 1972.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR was a band that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to when riding in my Dad’s truck as a youngin’. Thinking they were a Southern band until I got wise, CCR, since the early days of my youth, has never been far out of reach. That can’t be said for many bands I’ve come across. I think the majority of my childhood musical favorites were deemed “not worthy” during my first years as a teenager. I blame Lords of the Underground and Onyx. CCR began as Tom Fogerty & the Blue Velvets, then changed their name to The Golliwogs before settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR disbanded in 1972.

NOFX

Oh, NOFX. There was a point in my life where I could simply not get enough NOFX. Those years have been put to sleep, but I still reminisce from time to time. Although they formed in Los Angeles in 1983, they currently create crass melodies up in the bay area, hence the inclusion on this list.

Operation Ivy

Active from only 1987-1989, and releasing only 1 studio album, Op Ivy went on to become underground cult Gods. Influencing such notable bands as Green Day, the majority of the Fat Wreck Chords cast, Sublime, and eventually turning into Rancid, the band of 4 energetic punk (ska-core to be specific) got their name from a series of American operated nuclear tests conducted on the Marshall Islands (in the northern Pacific Ocean) in 1952.

Primus

Avant-Garde Metal sensations, Primus launched into the public’s conscious back in 1984. Since then they’ve experienced several lineup changes, but never lost their original voice, bass player and lead singer Les Claypool. Claypool’s label, Prawn Song Records is a parody of the Led Zeppelin owned, Swan Song Records.

The Doobie Brothers

Another one of “those bands” that my father frequently played, the diggity Doobie Brothers are the subject of comedic utterance by Michael Douglas in the 1984 classic, Romancing the Stone. Don’t remember the line? Here it is. They also created some pretty bad-ass music. I’ve never met someone who’s admitting NOT liking the D. Bros. (They formed in San Jose, I know, but it’s close to SF. Give me a break.)

As seen on TV

Record Vacuum - BoxThis 1976 “Record-Vacuum” by Ronco™ is hardly a vacuum. It’s basically a record holder with a wheel that spins the record against 2 foam brushes. This may have been the talk of the town back in ol’ ’76, but now it’s virtually just a Record Dirtier (As seen on TV).

I guess after 37 years the brushes may need to be changed out. Not sure if Ronco™ is still manufacturing those. The history of Ronco™ can be found here.  Surprisingly, the damn thing still turns on!

I basically keep it around as a conversation piece, but sadly, those conversations are quite short (much like this post).

Record Vacuum - Pryor