Is Pat Boone Worth Your Dime?

Dot InsertFrom the Six Fat Dutchmen, to Billy Vaughn, to the Lennon Sisters, to Pat Boone singing Hymns We Love, Dot Records is home to almost 600 albums, whose complete, full-color catalogue can be had for a measly double nickel. Unlock the door to the (piercing) enchanted sounds of Eddie Peabody on Man With the Banjo, or roll along with the Spaghetti Rag playin’ Jo Ann Castle on Ragtime Piano Gal, or better yet, exercise your inner desire for mid-50s variety shows with Calcutta! by Lawrence Welk. Yes, all the albums you could ever hope to want are here on Dot Records, so don’t delay! Cut and fill out the attached coupon, flip that puppy into an envelope and mail it to:

CouponDot Records, Inc.

Dept. C

Sunset and Vine

Hollywood 28, Calif.

A lifetime worth of (regrettable) unforgettable musical euphoria awaits you!

Check and Mate

Checkmate Records - Purple Insert_SmallerFrom what I can gather, the hard-working women and men behind this magnificent name, and alluring logo, performed admirably for their better-known Windy City chiefs at the Chess Record Corporation, Checkmate’s steadfast older brother. Records worthy of a king’s ransom only spin until the booty runs dry… or until the company is sold in 1969 for $6.5 million. A momentary blip In the radar of bygone yesteryears, Checkmate Records’ well may have run dry, but its game-winning logo is worthy of momentary appreciation.

Square Wave in Unison

AglioFeelin’ pretty simple today, so here’s the lyrics sheet / insert to Aglio E Olio (pronounced: AH-lyoh ay AW-lyoh), the 8 song, 11 minute EP by the Beastie Boys. Pretty, isn’t it? I think it is, or at least I thought it was… enough to tape it to whatever rented wall I happened to occupy during the time of purchase (tape residue, evidence of my murky past, can be found on the back in all four corners). It’s still crazy to me that this album was released only three years after Check Your Head. That’s a little dose of reality I guess I’m just gonna’ have to swallow.

We’re Nookie-Bound

MeatballsSince you asked, the hands-down greatest camp song ever written goes something like this:

We are the C.I.T.’s so pity us,

The kids are brats the food is hideous,

We’re gonna’ smoke and drink and fool around.

We’re nookie-bound.

We’re the North Star C.l.T.’s.

If you’ve never been to summer camp, or don’t remember one of the greatest scenes in the 1979 Ivan Reitman film, Meatballs, then you, my friend, have never experienced summer.

Alright, that may be a bit harsh, but for someone who grew up with this film (my parents had dubbed it onto the same VHS as Stripes… they will forever be related, the ultimate 6-year-old double feature), this scene, and this song in particular, has driven in its stakes and popped a permanent tent into the dust-covered, brush-rattling, creek-rolling, open-air, tree-covered corners of my psyche. It’s always summer up there, and this is its theme.

I still get goosebumps when listening to this song, and every time it’s welcomed with a smile. I hope you enjoy.


Remember the Golden Days of Radio

RadioEvery once in a while it’s good to slow things down to screeching, siren-whaling halt, and ingest the vinyl representation of definitive, mind-opening, electromagnetic radiation of a historical nature. I am, of course, talking about original radio broadcasts, which, without attempt, paint a blurry yet alluring picture of a world devoid of iOS updates, 242 television channels of unadulterated drivel, and the dastardly Kardashians.

Track ListRemember the Golden Days of Radio Volume 2 is a brilliantly executed presentation of archival events that offer a much younger generation of listeners the profound opportunity to experience the highs (The Shadow radio adventure) and lows (The Greatest “Eye Witness” report in history: The Von Hindenburg crashes in flames) of free space spewing entertainment.

Like fresh fruit for a rotting mind, this series by The Longines Symphonette Society is damn near essential material for those of us who are enthralled by, to put it frankly, the way it used to be. Do yourself an extensive favor; release the clutching hands of “the now” and let the warm wave of yesterday’s serenity ease your anxious mind.

Gotta Get Up

Nilsson SchmilssonAs I fought inevitability this morning in an epic battle of comfort vs. responsibility, the lyrics to Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson began to loop inside my groggy head like a snooze-less alarm. I have no shame admitting my adolescent experience with the mighty Mr. Nilsson, having just “discovered” him via means of the sobering documentary, Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).

Call me a newcomer, a sap-hearted seedling, or a punk-eared Johnny-come-lately. Call me whatever you wish, just remember to call me a fan of Harry Nilsson.


Gratitude Village

GratitudeThe brothers three, AKA the Beastie Boys, followed up their 1989 (critically hailed, and historically beloved) flop, Paul’s Boutique by moving from NYC to northeast Los Angeles where they would record their instrumentally diverse, and genre-shredding third album, Check Your Head. Gratitude, one of the albums’ five singles, features the crew goofin’ under the Atwater Village sign, which has now become an immediate nerd-tour destination spot for yours truly.

BackTwo quick things and then I’ll be out of your hair. 1) Having been introduced to the b-boys back in Wisconsin, I had no Earthly idea to think of visiting the Atwater Village sign once I finally got my ass to LA. On a side note, I currently live only 13 from it, a stark contrast from the 2008 miles from where I first heard this song. 2) Gratitude is an essential buy if only for the unreleased joker, Honky Rink. I won’t go into details, but it involves a facetious announcement for white-only skaters at a local ice rink. Check your head, and this out.

Mr. Las Vegas

Newton LiveThe Best of Wayne Newton Live was one of the first 20 or so records I’ve ever owned (somewhat mystifying now, if you think about it), and it opened the door for many other exceedingly entertaining records released by Mr. Las Vegas to join the collection.

Acquired for roughly $3.98 from a Madison, WI Half Price Books back in 1997, this album got frequent spins during my first semester of college, and remains a critical part of those early collecting days. I distinctly remember listening mainly to the b-side, which consists of three medleys. This is only notable since the a-side contains Newton-ized versions of Live and Let Die, Hard to Handle, You’ve Got a Friend, and (Take Me Home) Country Roads. But the b-side included 45 seconds of Danke Schone, so there you go. For reasons that escape me, the track that stands out the most, some 17 years later, is Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast. I have no idea why this song hit me at the tender age of 18, but, I suppose, some mysteries are better left unsolved.

Eye of the Calico Cat

EyesWould Rocky III still be considered the single greatest motion picture achievement had it not featured Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger?  This seemingly innocent question has been the catalyst for civil wars throughout many Philly-loving cliques since this song’s release back in 1982. Did Robert “Rocky” Balboa have enough momentum going for him with the victorious releases of Rocky and Rocky II (1976 and 1979), or can the silver-screen-crowning-victory-belt be awarded to the Chicago-based arena rockers? A solid case for both parties can be made, but what matters most here is Rocky III. For without Rocky III, the world would not be blessed with Rocky IV, Rocky V, or even the 2006 rehash, Rocky Balboa. Is that the kind of world you’d like to live in? It certainly isn’t one I’d want to live in. Thank you, Rocky III, for all that’s right with the world.

Let the Music Speak for Itself. Case Closed.

NovaMuteI’m infrequently one to pimp, verbatim, the concise and thought-out, profit-based, self-reflecting statements from record labels that tickle my fancy. With two parts respect, and three parts laziness, I present the NovaMute creed, in its entirety, without any half-assed PG interruption (found scrolled within the insert to the double LP, NovaMute Kompilation):

Rewind 1993, birthdate Novamute, Mute’s original dysfunctional sibling. A label torn kicking and screaming from the belly of Mute records, a label to satisfy the parent company’s love of the electronic pulse, a label to take things further into the dark heart of the sampler and synth. Fond of laughing in the face of expectations, NovaMute has never been an easy child. Always preferring the unexpected, the label has set a standard documenting the often highly idiosyncratic output of many of Europe’s finest electronic renegades. Never one to tame the extremes of their roster, their artists have benefited from the open-mindedness of the label’s philosophy. The result ? A salvo of critically loved and sometimes blindly misunderstood records that have often shaken electronic music’s foundations. Five years is a long time in music, but one thing has remained constant, NovaMute’s ability to keep on pushing the envelope and redefine the way we look at dance music in the 1990’s. The strongest evidence? Their roster includes Speedy J, Luke Slater, Plastikman, Joey Baltram and Darren Price. Let the music speak for itself. Case closed.

May the Force Be With You, Mark Eskelson

Mark EskelsonWhat thrilling day it must have been back in 1977 at 51 N. 425 E. in Smithfield, Utah (zip 84335). Probably having just returned home from the local K-Mart with his newly acquired Star Wars original motion picture soundtrack, a young (probably high school-aged) Mark couldn’t wait to relive the intergalactic adventures on his parents’ home stereo system while leafing through all the bonus goodies that accompany this amazing two LP set. Aside from the legendary masterworks of John Williams, 20th Century Records’ release also included an epic poster, a credits insert, and this mail in offer for an official Star Wars t-shirt. Mark is a size large, by the way.

The specifics surrounding the immediate and gleeful filling out of this order form that prevented a space drama-loving Mark Eskelson to NOT send it in will forever be pondered and (over) analyzed by its current owner (me). If only for a brief moment, it must be stated that Mark’s true reason for not forking over $5 for this gem of necessary fashion can only truly be understood by him, in a galaxy far, far away.

Dickie’s Songs

Dickie's SongsPart of the joy found within any hunt is the conceived, emotional attachment attributed to the treasure before it was found. Dickie’s Songs, whose identities are buried deep within the hearts that Dickie hath stole, may very well continue to live, although hypothetical by today’s standards, in the thoughts and minds of those willing to keep fueling its emotional flame.

This discarded jacket reads:

No bloom has the roses since U Left me

I Love you

Hartz Mountain ProductsWho was Mr. Dickie, and what exactly were his songs? Housing my Come Back to Sorrento 78 for several years, this withered jacket speaks volumes, in ways Hartz Mountain Products may never have imagined. Were Dickie’s songs in fact Come Back to Sorrento and Moonlight Madonna by the Master Radio Canaries? Or was this jacket simply a goodwill offering for a cold and played-out 78 within arms reach? Part of me wants to break this record and scream to the heavens, questioning the mournful, and yes, hypothetical regret of some heart-sick lass, yet another part of me wants to identify with this 2-track 78, if only to better understand its local significance.

No BloomIf Dickie was just some spoiled house bird, for whom its owner would acquire red, 78rpm records, then I’m going to be irate, but if Dickie was in fact a lovelorn heart bandit, then I sincerely hope he got his much-deserved comeuppance.

When Drumsticks Fall From the Sky

StickA few days ago we had an earthquake here in Southern California. Initially it was monitored as a 4.7, and then was downgraded to a 4.4. How a conscious-inducing seismic anomaly can be reduced in mere hours is beyond my pre-K comprehension. Anyway, my girlfriend and I have, what I believe to be, a rational and logical understanding about what to do when the planet has a seizure. She finds the closest doorway, and I rush to the record wall to keep it from falling. Makes perfect sense to me, although death by records is not necessarily something my GF is keen to. After our 4.7 (or 4.4, depending on what wizardry of scientific evaluation you trust) we regained composure, picked up a few things that the Earth apparently wanted on the floor, and we went along about our day.

AnimositisominaAmong the debris of gravitational plunging, was a drumstick I luckily acquired from a Ministry concert during their 2003 Fornicatour (that’s what it was called). It had been resting above the doorframe to the office, opposite the drumstick from a Har Mar Superstar show I’d seized sometime in 2007 (my only two concert acquisitions). Since this was the first quake I had witnessed to knock anything over, the image of that beat-up baton lying helpless on the floor stuck with me. So now, I drop it here, like it has been dropped before, first from the stage to my outstretched arm, then to the floor from that early morning tremor. Beware of tumbling matter, kids, for when drumsticks fall from the sky, anything is seemingly possible.

Paranoid Chant

Paranoid ChantI peer at a blank page and I keep thinking of World War Three. I dip my broccoli and carrots and I keep thinking of World War Three. I get up to change the record and I keep thinking of World War Three. I read the intolerable news and I keep thinking of this song.

Shillelaghs and Shamrocks and Shenanigans

BingLittle more is common thread between the bass-baritone troubadour, Bing Crosby, and early 90s pop-hop hooligans, House of Pain save for their Irish-American heritage, and their longevity in pop music history. Bing’s Shillelaghs and Shamrocks boasts traditional fervor, ripe with Irish folk-lore (or so the back sleeve prompts), where as HOP’s Shamrocks and Shenanigans boasts pub-brawling, head-knocking, fine malt beer-drinking, aggressive hip hop by three guys looking to draw blood, and get paid doing it.

Fine Malt LyricsAlthough at seemingly opposite ends of the musical rainbow, both are little pots of entertainment gold, and whether you’re a fan of the straightforward Bing-and-sing-along-Crosby, or the radio-friendly, malt lyric-spiked-shamrock shake-drinking shenanigans of early 90s House of Pain, nothing says, “thanks for running those nasty snakes out of town, St. Patrick” like Shillelaghs and Shamrocks and Shenanigans.

The Power of Love

POL StickerHow can love power be measured? If it’s possible, I’m sure Southern California Edison is devising a way in which to charge more for that (overpriced) service. Can this power be weighed? It can certainly be measured (1.21 gigawatts = 1,210,000,000 watts, btw). Is there a love power converter? Would Sears have it, or maybe Hardware Hank?

Little is understood about this specific amount of energy used per unit time, but one thing is scientifically understood; the power of love is a curious thing, however the hell it’s measured.

(This 12” single contains the exclusive, extended dance remix by John “Jellybean” Benitez, for those so included to care.)

E-Lec-Tric-al Banana

Mellow YellowMellow Yellow, the 1967 album by the Glasgow born, Scottish revolutionary, Donovan Phillips Leitch (as apposed to Mello Yello, the refreshing citrus beverage enjoyed during the bike riding summers of yesteryear), carries with it an aura, a golden, warming glow of sandal-wearing, ankle-wading, mind-clearing, beach-yearning temperaments of folky goodness, perfect for soaking in the warm, skin-kissing rays from that mass of incandescent gas we call the sun.

Yellow MellowCertain times throughout the annual revolution of our inhabitable rock, the specific craving for particular sounds eclipses that of everyday listening pleasure. In December, it’s the Monks, in May it’s Vacuum Scam, and for whatever unknown (however wholeheartedly welcomed) reason, March is the perfect time for Donovan.

Neurotic 7”

NeuroticThe Bouncing Souls were often the frontrunners for repeated and consistent spins during my (long-winded) pop-punk days. Their first album, 1994’s The Good, The Bad, and the Argyle, featured this Neurotic 7” in its entirety, although its tracks don’t appear in the same order. The New Jersey punk outfit are a hell-of-a-lot of fun live, and the studio recordings of some of their early work still stands out as some of the best of the pop-punk genre.

I like your mom and it’s no fad,

I wanna’ marry her and be your dad

I Like Your MomIf you don’t know The Bouncing Souls, you should get a pretty good idea of their mischievous, yet adolescent tendencies by the above lyrics (which are pretty much the entirety of I Like Your Mom). Couple that with melodic, fast-paced race-rock, and you’ve got the makings for an energy-filled trip down Memory Ln (even if  it happened to exist over 15 years ago).

A Moonlit, Birthday Serenade

Moonlight SerenadeHappy birthday to my favorite person in the entire world! I have her to thank, from the bottom of my vinyl-obsessed heart, for her consistently thoughtful demeanor, her exceptional inner and outer beauty, for her patience, her understanding, her delicious cooking experiments, for her laughs, for her goofy tendencies, which bring out my goofy tendencies, for her welcoming family, and for putting up with me.

I love ya, kiddo! You own my heart. Happy birthday!

Demonstration – Not For Sale

No ShelterRemember when Best Buy (the slowly dying, North American electronics conglomerate) gave away 7” records? I have more than a few “promotional giveaways” from my short-lived DVD and CD collecting days of the late 90s and early 2000s, a few of them acquired by the big, yellow and blue super-store (an Intergalactic “jukebox only” 45 by the Beastie Boys, and a white vinyl copy of Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) Live by Pink Floyd).

Red ShelterNow, my memory could very well be rewriting history here, but I distinctly remember buying RATM’s The Battle of Los Angeles (on CD), and getting with it this transparent red No Shelter 7”. I remember thinking how odd and out of place it was for Best Buy to even have records, let alone be giving them away, a sensation all but lost just recently upon the realization that certain Best Buys now carry severely overpriced vinyl reissues. I should be happy that the vinyl-collecting community is large enough for Best Buy to take notice, I suppose, and even though my Best Buy shopping days are almost completely exclusive to gifted gift cards, it’s comforting to remember a distinctive era in music collecting history (regardless of how individual and / or particular to me).