With Rewards Few and Far Between

You’d think I’d have this blog thing licked by now… 1) take a picture of a recently purchased album, a recent obsession, or on lazy days, a less-than-exciting insert, 2) find 20 minutes throughout the day to weasel out some overtly obvious tidbits, then hit Publish, and 3) feel a sense of gilded accomplishment. Seems easy enough, except when weekend work plans interfere with album photo taking plans and you miss the natural daylight and you’re forced to play the “better-figure-out-a-post-idea-with-no-adaquate-photo-before-midnight” game where the stress levels are high, and the rewards few and far between.

Guest Star RecordsSo, in that vein, here is a logo for Guest Star Records that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Enjoy your weekend, kids.

Pretty, No?

Judge2There is something about the abnormality of a non-traditional vinyl disc that is both alluring, and instantly gratifying… specifically what that is will (fortunately) have to wait for a future engagement, when and where I find myself with more time and adequate resources with which to report.

But in the meantime… here is a pretty record by Judge, and please enjoy your weekend responsibly… somebody should.

Nine Tonight

Nine TonightIf you don’t listen to Bob Seger, with his horn-blowing, rhythm curating Silver Bullet Band, you should. Nine Tonight, a live compilation album comprised of two live performances from 80 & 81, flawlessly captures the hopped-up energy and non-assuming down-home shtick of this legend in the height of his celebrated, classic rock pilgrimage. Straightforward, certainly does not equal mundane.

There is a certain circle of classic rock bands (which, when analyzed, highlights specific albums) that embody the bulk of my early, classic-rock-stratosphere-puncturing inauguration into a wealth of audible pleasure that reached passed the (familiar) heavy wave of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. I have my father to thank for this, and not a Bob Seger reference goes by that doesn’t remind me of riding in my father’s pickup, and listening to, among a slew of other classic rock essentials, Nine Tonight.

… that kind of music just soothes the soul…

A Self Called Nowhere

John HenryThe Avatars of They, before they were so known, switched from a quirky, two-piece, drum machine-heavy outfit to a full-fledged live ensemble with their fifth full length, 1994’s John Henry. One of only two TMBG CDs owned by yours truly back in High School, John Henry was on par with the critically, and fan, acclaimed Flood, their 1990 offering, for reasons, upon initial spinning, that are glaringly apparent.

Released on vinyl for the first time (on Asbestos Records), John Henry was one of the last remaining “need to own on vinyl” albums on my “never released on vinyl” wishlist. Thankfully, opportunity, and an understanding SO, allowed for this double LP to (finally) come home.

Henry JohnSo much personal grief has been filtered through these 20 tracks, with specific, loathing, heartbroken attention diligently paid to A Self Called Nowhere. It’s exceptionally difficult to listen to this lamenting track and not picture the narrowing walls of my basement bedroom, all the while desperately (and at times violently) seeking any form of alleviation from the inevitable pains of one’s first breakup. A Self Called Nowhere was my internal theme for far too many weeks, and it helped to push me through an experience that callused my nerves like the fallout of first relationships are rightfully meant to do.

$12 = 12 78s

MuddyWatersI’ve rarely, if ever, searched for 78s at record shops. Up until a few weeks ago, 78s had been the illusive blind spot in my collection’s rearview mirror. Finding the occasional (Lawrence Welk) 78 at the corner thrift shop, I got a hunch and stopped by the local b&m to see if this rickety ol’ obsolete format was still being bartered enough to possess a specific nook on the floor. After scouring the relatively small shop, I asked the cashier (read: fellow record nut) if they had a section for 78s. They did, and they were neatly tucked away in the back of the $1 bin area, a section they call “the attic.” 10 minutes later, I unearthed this 1957 copy of Chicago Blues great, Muddy Waters. Along with a few Glenn Millers, a few Les Browns, a few Woody Hermans, and a Frank Sinatra, I walked out of my local brick & mortar with 12 78s, equalling 12, happily spent dollars I’d kept tucked inside my wallet. Moral of the story… formats may be lost, but they’re never forgotten.

Walking Contradiction

TravisShamefully, I tend to overlook Kris Kristofferson when casually picking a record with which to spin. Last night’s viewing of Taxi Driver lit a pop-country fire under my ass, which necessitated a spin of this album, The Silver Tongued Devil and I, featured in the above mentioned film. Much too much to absorb in one sitting, the craftwork of Mr. Kristofferson’s wordplay leaves little to be desired, and creates a picturesque landscape of trials and bitter tribulations, worthy of even the walking contradictions among us. Travis Bickle would certainly approve.

Shape Up

GreggainsNothing says, “wake your ass up, right here!” like Shape Up Aerobics with Joanie Greggians. Anytime is the proper time for bettering your body’s mind while laboring through therapy-based disco ballads… and dammit, I speak from experience!

Exercise is a muscle best flexed slowly, and with repetition. If you don’t believe me, just tune in to Joanie’s Morning Stretch TV Show. Lose those unsavory pounds in the comfort of your own home, thanks to Joanie Greggains and this 16-page instructional booklet. Your once unfulfilled evenings will be ripe with savory passion biscuits, courtesy of Joanie Greggains and her uncomfortable flexibility.

Stop Your Dreaming and Your Idle Wishing

The DeclineMy heart belongs to the Village Green, but as of late, I’ve been waking up with the rhythmic quips of Arthur dancing merrily throughout my head.

Yes sir, no Sir. Where do I go Sir? What do I do Sir? What do I say?

Not to sound like a blemished disc, but in my humble opinion, it really doesn’t get any better than the Kinks. 1968 gave us The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, and the world was forever grateful. 1969 brought us Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), and we were once again reminded of how fortunate our helpless souls really are. GOD SAVE THE KINKS!

If Only Life Were Easy it Would Be Such Fu-u-u-un!

Arthur1969 was a colorful year… or so I’m gathering. Fat-assed, punchy kangaroos named Arthur (with an apparent case of the dribbles), baking, medium-rare against the British sun, make for a rather kinky inner gatefold design. Had the music for Arthur (or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire) not been so impeccably genius, such mundane overindulgences may have garnished more criticism, but as it stands (or squats), this objectifiable throwaway acts more as a condiment for chuckles than an in-depth revelation of the band.

The British sun sets over many lands… as well it should. God save the Kinks!

Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck

The IvesFrom the big, barren beyond to the boisterous, bellowings of Burl Ives. Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck, nonetheless… (manufactured by underpaid and sleep deprived enthusiasts in Southern California… The Prudent Groove), to a room scattered with eager young minds with nothing more than the hopeful wonderment of an undeveloped mind, an acoustic guitar, and the classic Burl Ives goatee.

Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck raises more questions than the amount of entertainment it provides, but I doubt my kind is the target demographic. I’ve got a lot of respect for the man, and not just because my father sported the same goatee one year for Christmas. For me, Burl’s warming tone is reserved for the winter months, but now with this new addition, the listening radius may be expanded to those rare times when I feel compelled to relive the first grade.

The Planets, Circa: 1958

HolstThe dynamic eccentricities of classical music are foreign to me. I don’t know near enough about the genre to speak with even a Kindergartener’s education (not knocking Kindergarteners… they are people too), but I know what I like, and I like The Planets.

Seven tracks representing all the known planets circa: 1916 (omitting Earth, for obvious reasons, and poor, poor Pluto), The Planets, by Gustav Holst, has been respected the universe over, for the past 98 years, while monumentally demanding a home in every serious collector’s nook.

Listening to Isao Tomita’s interpretation of said album while formulating this entry may have been less than a logical endeavor, but experimentation has its place.

Happy Birthday, Emile Berliner

Emile BerlinerToday, we honor the birth, ingenuity, and modern-day-forward-thinking of phonograph pioneer, Emile Berliner. Evolving from the Edison-based cylinder phonograph that preceded him, Mr. Berliner had the wherewithal to secure his disc record gramophone into the thickened soil of format obsessed enthusiasts, and whose achievements in developing the preferred, modern day musical vehicle (as of the past decade +) need not go overlooked. Happy Birthday, Mr. Berliner, and thank you for shining a light into the darkened void of my obsessive behavior… this next round is on me.


DuophonicThe cheap man’s stereo, Duophonic was little more than a 1961 marketing ploy devised to capitalize on the illuminating craze of stereo LPs, while simultaneously rehashing mono recordings to fool the listener into “hearing” (or “not knowing the difference”) true stereo sound. This Wikipedia article spends a lot more time on the subject than I’m willing to offer this evening.

Now I Don’t Hardly Know Her, But I Think I Could Love Her

RouletteCrimson and Clover was probably the first “perfect” song I’d ever heard. I was 13, at a Jr. High dance and, well, you know how things are in Jr. High… Crimson and Clover, like the tail of some whoever I was chasing that week, managed to elude me for several years, but her lingering, abundant impact was always just below the surface of everyday stagnation.

Monetarily it may be nothing of collector-head-turning significance, but this 45 of Crimson and Clover is easily one of my most cherished records.

(On a side note… I’d become aware of Tommy James by means of an often-told story, offered, to whimsical delight, by my parents. Apparently ol’ Mr. James, well past his prime, was making a “to-do” of himself at some back-water club in rural Wisconsin in the late 70s, all the while wearing tight, revealing, white trousers. Some stars dimmer, but never really fade away… so long as a fresh pair of tighty whitey trousers are at the ready.)

Let’s Be Honest

GrainThis is a picture of a recent (as of a few years) reissue of Bad Religion’s 1990 staple, Against the Grain. I’m certainly a fan of BR, even though I wouldn’t be the first to admit that once you hear one BR song, you’ve heard every BR song, but I’ve always tended to pass up BR releases every time I ran across one. Not entirely sure why, considering their history amongst my favorite genre, but perhaps BR’s role in my chronological music timeline has yet to come to true fruition. Time will only tell, but in the meantime I’ll simply forgo the spin, and admire Against the Grain for its aesthetic beauty.

The Most Difficult Decision in the World, Some 248 Years in the Making (Part 1?)

Best of MozTo narrow down the overpowering wealth of compositions in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s untouchable arsenal to fit on a single, nolby titled disk may have been the most difficult decision anyone in the freethinking world has ever had to make. Lucky for those of us in possession of ABC Westminster Gold’s virtuous compilation (10 so far by Discogs stats), this decision was not met with half-assery.

Firing the first shot across the breakable bows of eager ears is (arguably) Mozart’s magnum opus, Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, followed by the ominous first movement from Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. With Piano Sonata No. 8 (first movement) in the three spot, and Serenade No. 4 K. 203 (again, first movement) batting cleanup, the first half of this LP, and the entirety of this post, come to an untimely halt.

I’ll eventually regurgitate my sheepish thoughts on the second most difficult decision in the world, aka the second half of ABC Westminster Gold’s overly ambitious, and painfully tedious deliberation, but not tonight. Don’t forget the classics, kids, and don’t wait until the last possible minute to post your daily rants!

Dr. Spock, Here to Rock

Dr. Spock Here to RockArguably the best album cover to arguably the best soundtrack to arguably the best sequel to arguably the best sci-fi series, Star Trek III the Search for Spock, in this, its audible incarnation, stands (pointed ears above the rest) superior, and profoundly climactic atop the pair of predecessors, and the slew of descendents that followed. George Orwell may not have envisioned an exploration for integral Klingons in his projected assessment of 1984, but that year’s theatrical release of Star Trek III the Search for Spock exceeded all anticipated expectations of technological storytelling, which is clearly evident by its impressive soundscape.

Prince Batman aka Batprince

BatmanBlank pages are the worst, especially when the minutes leading up to the end of the day feel as comfortable as an unnerving shiv under the index finger. Everyday is a balancing act of necessity vs. self-fulfillment, and that, which is regurgitated equal, to the contents of the Prudent Groove.

Featured today, momentarily and briefly, is a sticker on a soundtrack sleeve pimping the overzealous byproduct of 1989’s most accepting hero-film. Batman. Prince, the world love him, offers his brand of mainstream-funk that, for reasons far beyond my feeble comprehension, never reached the heights of artists 1/3 his stature.

1989 was a wacky year, and one that embraced a Prince-infiltrated DC comic was certainly one for the ages, and without question, necessitates a thoughtful listen.


Pulp FictionFor being such a staple, or unquestionable necessity, I rarely ever listen to this 1994 musical masterpiece of cinematic wisdom. I remember discovering this soundtrack at a small-time Milwaukee record shop back, some 12+ years ago, and thinking how unbelievably underpriced it was at $4. Double that with the fact that I’ve never crossed paths with another copy makes me shamefully realize that I should spin the ol’ girl much more often than I do.

Desperado needs a vinyl release. I’m just going to put that out there and let the potential fate of Antonio Banderas-admiring record collectors (such as myself) scurry amongst the hopes and dreams of wishful thoughts, until it becomes a reality, if only within the confines of our own imaginations.