Lenny Bruce was many things; an influence, a live wire in a time of controlled darkness, a perceived nuisance, and a picnicker. On the cover of The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce, the legendary comedian basks in the glistening sun, next to a well-prepped picnic, and the memorial markers of those deceased. I’m about to head out on a little picnic of my own (not alone and NOT in a cemetery), and this is the only picnic-based album I could muster. I hope you all have enjoyed/are enjoying your Saturday, and if you haven’t dipped your toes into the lurid pool that is Lenny Bruce, I humbly suggest that you take a deep breath, and dive in head first… the water is perfect.
The year was 1986, and it was about (damn) time that Ferris Bueller took (another) day off. Kicking off the alluring, and jaw-dropping, sex-rocket album, Flaunt It, Love Missile F1-11 owns the distinct pleasure of (indefinitely) changing the unforeseen boundaries of music’s indefinable landscape. Nothing before had been conceived, and few since carry the weight of changing one’s perspective on “what music can be” in a simple four minute and 48 second electro-mind-grinding lullaby.
If you’ve seen the John Hughes masterpiece, you’ve heard Love Missile F1-11. Kicking off with the (often) repeated phrase, “I wanna be a star!” this synth-happy, loop-clinging, guitar wailing love tune does (very) little to disguise its overtly sexual (over/under) tones. The line, “Shoot it up!” does not refer to any form of dragon chasing. “There goes my love, rocket-red.” You get the idea.
Sampling Mozart, gunshots, (what sounds like) ray guns, and perfectly timed explosions, Love Missile F1-11 is a seizure –inducing wall of sound that forces you (the listener) to (mentally) salivate and knock over old ladies who may stand in the way of another breathtaking fix.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik is certainly NOT for everyone, and prodigiousness wouldn’t have it any other way.
My fondness for the summer of 1998 stands unmatched (as far as late 90s summers are concerned). I’d spent the bulk of my high school years blasting Beastie beats (much to my parents’ dismay), and that summer’s theme song, Intergalactic, would prove to be the first Beastie Boys single in nearly four years (a streak of lifetimes when you’re between the ages of 15 and 19).
I distinctly remember listening to the radio (an extremely rare thing at the time, and a practice exclusively unheard of today), waiting to hit play + record on my cassette player in the hopes of capturing this new, legendary song. The single was released in mid-May, but in Madison, Wisconsin, if you weren’t present when ANY Beasties single was displayed, your chances of obtaining one were next to nil. This was 1998, before the internet as we now know it, and a full year before Napster. Back then, if you wanted music, you had to hunt, and often times, you came home empty handed.
It’s sad to admit, but I’ve all but disowned Intergalactic now, along with its album, Hello Nasty. However, I’ll never forget the perpetual excitement that stuck to my early adulthood (not unlike Midwestern humidity), and this cover, above all others, transforms a weary man in his mid 30s back into a wide-eyed, overly vocal, and optimistic young man. Oh, the summer of 1998.
Home to Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Coral Records was the not-so-ugly stepsister (subsidiary) of Decca Records. Formed in 1949, Coral Records saw fan-favorite releases by these, and many other big-name artists: Milton Berle, Lawrence Welk, Patsy Cline, Debbie Reynolds and the McGuire Sisters.
Unfortunately, Coral Records’ inspiring logo wasn’t enough to save the label’s merger with MCA Records in the 1960s. Save for the Lawrence Welk recordings, what was once known as a thriving and prolific label (they had Buddy Holly and the Crickets for crying out loud!) would devolve and become swallowed up by the Universal Music Group machine.
The phrase, “Buddy Holly Lives” may be true, but his label is now owned by a theme park.
This whole writing every day thing is a big bunch of hokum. So instead, for a one-day only special lazy day treat, I’m going to transcribe Golden Tone Records’ explanation of High Fidelity. No, it’s not a time traveling review of the 2000 film starring John Cusack, but instead a rather lengthy selling point of an audiophile’s wet dream. The Prudent Groove suggests you read the following, to yourself, but with a Morgan Freeman voice. Take it away, Red:
These high fidelity albums offer you an unexcelled value in high fidelity recordings. They are the result of a combination of skilled modern engineering techniques and the very finest recording equipment. These albums are recorded on 3-track Ampex tape recorders, using RCA, Altec and Electro-Voice microphones and, as a result, produce the truest possible tonal quality. In order to give you the most outstanding reproduction from the tape to the record, the tapes – mastered by the Westrex Feedback Cutter – are pressed from a high-quality vinyl formula under very precise manufacturing conditions. These records are recorded with the RIAA characteristic. Frequency response is from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second. For true enjoyment and top quality, no finer records can be purchased at any price!
I had a cat for eight years. His name was Indiana Jones. He’s gone now… damn little screen pusher was always trying to get outside. Anywho, every once in a while I’ll throw on a record and stumble across one of his hairs. If you look closely at the pic, what looks like a deep scratch near the top is actually a black, white and gray Indy hair. Presumably, the last time I listened to this, or any “Indy album” was between the years, 1998 and 2006, or as I refer to them as, The Indy Years. Kind of like The Wonder Years, but you know, with cats.
So today, I raise two glasses. The first, a whiskey neat to pay homage to the late, great Joe Strummer. The second, a tiny glass of milk to my old friend, Indiana Jones.
Thanks for the memories, guys.
Broadcasting self proclaimed, “Beautiful Music,” KPOL, “Los Angeles’ first easy-listening music station,” unleashed 21 alluring tracks, which were all “superbly performed by 101 Strings” in celebration for their 20th anniversary-birthday-ceremony-festival-type thing.
I don’t know what’s worse, that this is considered “Beautiful Music,” or that someone actually bought this deluxe 2 record set. (Looks into mirror and notices his unabated shame.) It certainly isn’t “Grotesque Music,” or even “Homely Music” for that matter, it’s just that when I think of the word “beautiful,” 101 strings does not come to mind. (I’m instantly reminded of a certain Twilight Zone episode with the applicable title, The Eye of the Beholder.)
On a serious note, it’s a bit sad to see the excitement and enthusiasm displayed by this proud and noble radio station, given the chilling fact that they would forever close their doors just nine short years after this celebratory album was released.
“Have a helping of memories,” kids, because our days are numbered…
I had no Earthly idea what to expect when I picked up Record Store Day Presents High School Battle of the Bands, but for only $1.99, and sealed, I figured, what the hell. Released as part of 2010’s Collector Christmas, also known as Record Store Day, this nine track comp, quite understandably, acts more as a vehicle for parading individual tracks than that of a comprehensive album. With that in mind, the pool of talent displayed throughout this record overwhelmed me. The overall lurid inflection on the majority of these tracks assured me that what I found was something significant.
In a nutshell, Fender teamed up with the liberators at Records Store Day to devise a brick-and-mortar-record-store-sponsored-high-school-band-contest. The winning band was to win a bunch of free gear, studio time, and a slot on this record. It was up to some undisclosed record executives and members from the Fender Corp. to judge all the entries that eventually resulted in this record. I have no idea how many bands entered, but every single one of the chosen nine are studio/label worthy.
It’s gratifying to see my two home states, Wisconsin and California, representing four of the nine tracks on this comp. My only gripe is that the link to the free download is dead… my fault for waiting three years to get this album. Support the future of noise pollution and GET THIS ALBUM!
I didn’t exactly pay $1.57 for Bent Fabric’s debut album, Alley Cat, but a record released in 1962 (adjusted for inflation, of course) calculated at $11.76, priced at $2.99 just yesterday, was something I certainly couldn’t turn down.
Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, AKA Bent Fabric, is an 88-year-old Danish pianist/composer who, on this album, plays merry ol’ ragtime music with the cunning grace of someone like Sergei Rachmaninov… only, you know, with cats.
With a killer bassline and a catchy chorus, The Bangles found chart-topping success in the fall of 1986 with their #1 hit single, Walk Like an Egyptian. The fall of 1986… right around the time I was starting the 2nd grade.
I loved this track as a kid, and found a fresh new appreciation for it within the past few years, mainly due to the truck-driving bassline… not to mention that as a whole, this 80s single truly withstands the test of time.
If you haven’t in a while, Walk Like an Egyptian… you’ll have plenty of time to wait in traffic like a Los Angeleno, so why not give it a spin.
With little to no time today, I present Loops of Fury by the Chem Bros. Featured in the Playstation game, Wipeout 2097 (and released on the jam-packed, gonna-make-your-ears-bleed, but in a good way, soundtrack to the game titled, you guessed it, Wipeout 2097: The Soundtrack), Loops of Fury is a perfect example of late 90s Chem Bros, and stands as a highlight of Big Beat music in general.
With enough bass to make your neighbors call the cops, Loops of Fury would make a great addition to any collection, especially if pissing off your neighbors is your style.
Not only is Atco an unincorporated gaggle of pleasant homesteaders in Camden County, New Jersey, it’s also a record label and subsidiary of Atlantic Records Corporation (ATlantic COrporation… see what they did there?). Founded in 1955, ATCO served as an outlet for acts that, for one reason or another, didn’t fit the Atlantic Records format (Atlantic Records needs to lighten up if you ask me).
One of ATCO’s early releases is the 1964 compilation titled, Ain’t She Sweet. I don’t own this record… but I wish I did. It features The Beatles (with Tony Sheridan, recorded in 1961), and fetches a hefty $600 on Discogs. Keep an eye out for this one in the $1 bins.
What I dig most about these old inserts, apart from the frequent reminder of how to care for my records, is the variety of new bands I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. Now, I’ve heard of Bent Fabric (Bent Fabricius-Bjerre), but I didn’t realize that most of his covers featured animals. My favorite from this insert is undoubtedly, The Drunken Penguin. That, coupled with Alley Cat, The Happy Puppy, and Never Tease Tigers just became the top four records in my want list.
Thanks to the nice people of Atco, and ATCO for the groovy suggestions.
Yesterday was a good day in terms of record pecking. I was able to find the following four albums (two firsts and two comps) for relatively cheap (it’s not only about the find… it’s also about the deal, as you all well know).
First up is The Rolling Stones’ self-titled debut, The Rolling Stones. Now, there were two copies of this album over at Record Surplus, and both sleeves were in pretty good shape. The copy I left behind was priced at $35, but the version I brought home was only $5. Record Surplus is thoughtful enough to provide listening stations (available, albeit restrictive, in five minute intervals). The record looked a bit choppy, but after a test spin, it proved to be only visually perverted. Score one for The Groove!
Second is Tim Hardin’s first album, Tim Hardin 1. I’m absolutely loony over Tim Hardin’s brand of white boy blues (after discovering his 1967 released, 1963-1964 recorded album, This is Tim Hardin). If you don’t know Tim Hardin, you don’t know anguish. It’s as simple as that.
Third and fourth are two of the three part series of early 80s UK punk comps titled, Punk and Disorderly. I’d first heard of these comps via NOFX lyrics in the song, Punk Guy that go “He should’ve been on the cover of Punk and Disorderly.” With 16 tracks apiece, I eagerly look forward to angry meditations in UK punk.
So, there you have it. British Invasion, White Boy Blues, and early UK Punk. Not bad for a stroll down to the corner shop.
Wikipedia will have you know, that Martin Crosbie “was an Irish tenor” who is internationally known for the song, The Miller’s Daughter featured here, on his 1975 album, Yesterday When I Was Young. At the time of this record’s release, Mr. Crosbie had been performing at Clontarf Castle in Dublin “for the past ten years” (1965-1975 for those not keeping track). Many of the chosen tracks that appear on Yesterday When I Was Young were those most requested by levelheaded audience members attending his consistent executions on stage at the above-mentioned Irish castle. The man was a hoss… a performance whore with lines that wrapped around the corner, and down the halls (no evidence of this exists).
The back sleeve offers a little insight into Mr. Crosbie’s personal life: “The recent tracks on the album are Thelma (the first wife) on the organ, and myself only.” First wife? How many more were there? Could a once blooming, and romantically blossomed love really be diminished down to a three-word description such as “the first wife?” Apparently so. Passing away in 1982 at the age of 71, and with little-to-no information about this golden-throated legend available online, we are all left to the inconsistent suggestions of speculation.
As for the bulging wang… no comment.
On a recent excursion to the corner thrift shops, I was able to unearth a few awkward gems. Let me back-up a bit and say, wholeheartedly, that inflation is a bastard. I’m going to sound very old, very quickly here, so please bear with me. I can remember strolling into any random thrift shop and paying nothing over $0.99 for a used record. Today, tainted by the thick, grubby hands of the monetary virus known as inflation, these thrift shops, that receive all of these records for free, mind you, are selling records for $3 a pop! Granted, yes, $3 for a record is still a monumental steal, but I clearly would have picked up at least two, possibly three more albums had the price been “what it used to be.”
I believe it was George Costanza who said, “I pay what I want.” I’m strongly considering adopting that principle. It blows my feeble mind to think who would ever pay $3 for a scratched-to-hell Lawrence Welk album with a ripped cover. Ok, my teeny-tiny rant over with, I wanted to present the three, newest additions to my collection. First up is the 1975 Win, Lose or Draw by the Allman Brothers Band. My catalog of Allman Brothers music is small, so this will help the cause.
Second is a 1962 UK release of Mrs. Mills’ Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties. In almost pristine shape, Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties is a nostalgic (for someone, I suppose) keepsake for the burlesque-inspired and boa flinging dance parlors of a decade nearly a century old. Not to mention, the cover is priceless (even though it was had for three times the price I would have like to have paid).
Last, but certainly not least, is a magnificent 1975 album from an artist I’d never heard of, Martin Crosbie (with Thelma). Yesterday When I Was Young, released on the Irish Olympic Records label, showcases a stern, and slightly annoyed Martin Crosbie standing atop a few dry rocks directly in front of a roaring river. I can’t wait to listen to this album.
In short, inflation is an inevitable priss, and $3 for an album is still not bad (screams to himself), especially considering the unknown gem that potentially waits in the dimly lit, and dust-filled shelves of your local thrift store.
Save for the compilation, Let’s Talk About Leftovers, 1998’s Let’s Talk About Feelings was the last studio album by the Goleta, CA pop-punk rockers… the illustrious Lagwagon… that demanded my immediate, consistent, dumbfounded, and adolescent attention. I believe, shortly after the release of this album, the wings of my music evolution stretched into the dark, disheveled world of industrial music, so needless to say, Let’s Talk About Feelings left a lasting impression.
To fly over the specifics of this album, allow me to ramble off a few key (irrelevant) facts. Let’s Talk About Feelings was released, as I stated, in 1998 by Fat Wreck Chords. It was offered on compact disc and via wax by means of a 10”. Lagwagon released a box set of their major albums back in 2011, and Let’s Talk About Feelings was finally given a proper 12” format. Ok… back to the lamenting.
Let’s Talk About Feelings was one of those albums that never left the car. You know those albums, those discs of the compact nature. This particular disc postulated my attention for what seemed like SEVERAL years (I was 19 then, so a day felt like a week, and a week felt like, well, two weeks). Let’s Talk About Feelings, or LTAF, marked something of an uncomfortable maturity from the band that, at the time, I was both not prepared for, and unwilling to accept. Again, I was 19… daft, irrelevant, thick, and extremely pissed off.
With only 25 minutes dispersed throughout 12 emotionally weighing tracks, LTAF feeds that driving need for fast-paced, melodically moving, and hook-tastic pop-punk, that, for me, acted as a perfect half-hour soundtrack to the inevitable, adolescent-abandoning struggles of my late teen years. Let’s Talk About Feelings is a difficult album… not by what it presents, but by the nostalgia it unearths. My experience with this album is certainly only isolated to me, my actions, and the immediate concerns of a 19 year old pizza delivery driver facing the woes of the budding responsibility that erupts from the inevitable mountain of mastered maturity.
Let’s Talk About Feelings… I just did.
Editor’s note: This post was by request, and marks the first of (hopefully only a few more… just kidding) many friendly, reader-based requests to come. Do you have a specific request? Email me or drop me a line in the comments. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy what you read, but your requests certainly will not go overlooked.
No. 2) You have the right to food money, providing of course, you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation and if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation.
No. 3) You have the right to free speech (as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it).
These rights, as described by the late, the prolific, the prophet, Mr. Joe Strummer, are your responsibility to learn and digest. It is of the utmost importance that you educate (and mentally set free) your immediate family, coworkers, daycare professionals, gas station attendants, hot air balloon operators, garbage disposal fixers, and sad children with orange-tinted hair. These rights need to be understood, as I imagine Mr. Strummer would have wanted it that way.
For good measure, I’ve offered a little insight into my obsessive-compulsive nature. Apparently, on Thursday evening in late July, back in 1997, I felt it was a good idea to preserve the receipt to my purchased copy of Combat Rock. $3.98! The Clash were the soundtrack to that, the first summer out of 1) high school and 2) my parents’ home. The Clash were, and will always be, at least for me, a monumental symbol of freedom. It sounds just as gigantic and paradisiacal today as it did over 16 years ago.
Know your rights.
Arguably the best 30 track compilation featuring the monstrously influential British Invasion ever to be pressed to wax, this 1981 collaboration between Warner Special Products and Lake Shore Music marries the pinnacle of head-spinning talent that the Queen of England’s own had to offer… up to and including the 1961 single, My Bonnie, featuring Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers. The Beat Brothers, as you know, would eventually change their name to The Beatles… the band name this track is credited to on this compilation.
I’m not going to bore you with the A-1 list of exceptional talent highlighted here (The Hollies, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Unit 4+2, Donovan, Manfred Mann, The Zombies, Them, Chad & Jeremy, The Beatles, The Spencer Davis Group…), but I will (briefly) mention that someone off Discogs offered to buy my copy of British Sterling, which I appropriately, and respectfully declined. One of these days I’m going to gather enough motivation to digitize this double LP, but until that (dreadfully long and labor intensive) day, two flips for 30 tracks suits me just fine.
Although I don’t consider A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum a pivotal part of the British Invasion, there is something striking about the 1-2 punch of Procol’s Shade followed by Tell Her No by The Zombies. Somebody knew what the hell he or she was doing when they made this compilation. To whomever that is… (raises Sun Records coffee mug) I salute you!
My apologies to fans of the masterful, and iconic Ian Anderson, but there has never been a bigger, fear-invoking, badass flautist than Hubert Laws. Have a quick look-see at the bevy of influential and groundbreaking artists Mr. Laws has performed with: Chet Baker, George Benson, Ron Carter, Johnny Hammond, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria, Leon Spencer and Walter Wanderley… and that’s only naming about half of his collaborators.
The man was even featured on an early Groove post about the “junk induced, vodka-and-coke spilling, dank, eye-burning, smoke-filled classic for the casual 1980 Contemporary Jazz fan in all of us,” the illustrious Empire Jazz.
The Chicago Theme is upbeat groove-jazz with a Starsky & Hutch-style flair, and comes highly recommended. Released on Creed Taylor’s prominent CTI label back in 1975, this six track funktastic medley tackles such well known incarnations as You Make Me Feel Brand New (covered by everyone from Boyz II Men, to Rod Stewart to Babyface) and Midnight at the Oasis (I can’t help but picture Ron and Sheila Albertson performing an abridged version of this track whilst auditioning for Corky St. Clair’s Red, White and Blaine in the timeless, Waiting for Guffman).
One doesn’t think “badass” when they think of the flute… Hubert Laws is here to rectify that, and but quick!