This 1956 reissue of Duke Ellington’s 1951 classic, Masterpieces, was one of the first records to take full advantage of the (then) new long play (LP) format. Previously restricted to about three and a half minutes on 78rpm records, Mr. Ellington and his partners in crime liberated listeners with Mood Indigo, the 15-minute opener of jaw-dropping proportions. Though I much prefer the cover art to this reissue, the 1951 original is something of recorded music history, and therefore one I shall hunt down. But seriously, this album is amazing in any format, and as with any Ellington release, comes highly recommended by the feeble minds here at The Prudent Groove.
I’m a sucker for album covers that feature, well, album covers, so ELO’s 1976 compilation Olé ELO was a no-brainer. Strange Magic, Evil Woman, Roll Over Beethoven, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle… this single disc release has just about everything a novice ELO fan could want (save maybe for Rockaria! or Livin’ Thing, which would come out this same year on the band’s sixth studio album, A New World Record). Anyway, you can find this record for dirt cheap. Do yourself a favor and move it to the top of your list.
Neil Diamond struck it rich with his 1970 live album, Gold. This is a 1973 reissue, but the material is the same as that on the original 1970 album (for those caring to know such things). The material was recorded on July 15, 1970 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles (a great, and relatively small venue). It’s a great listen, but don’t take my word for it. Extinct trade magazine Cashbox had this to say in October of 1969: “On stage Diamond radiates the same excitement that has made pop stars from Sinatra to Presley, and it’s a sensation that can’t be described, only felt.”
Agustín Castellón Campos, better known as world-renowned Romani Flamenco guitarist Sabicas, released a back-to-back-to-back onslaught of wicked Spanish-folk with his Sabicas Volume 1 – Volume 3 (1957 – 1958) for Elektra Records. While currently on the hunt for Volume 1 and 2, I can say without hesitation that Sabicas, in any volume, is a terrific way to start out the week. Be on the lookout the next time you wander into your local brick & mortar. You’re welcome.
A band by any other Beat, is still The Beat. Known in Australia as The British Beat, in North America as The English Beat, and in their own territory as simply, The Beat, this late 70s – early 80s ska revival group released some unforgettable earworms throughout their tenure, a few of which would be focal points to classic cult films. I mentioned earlier (four or so years ago) about their inclusion in the 1997 film Gross Pointe Blank, but it was 1982’s Rotating Head (instrumental version titled March of the Swivelheads) by means of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that introduced me with this prolific and continent-jumping band. The music? Well, it still holds up, and shows no signs of fading away into irrelevant obscurity. The (insert location here) Beat’s discography is relatively small, and definitely work seeking out.
Skip Martin conducts the Hollywood Symphony and All-Star Jazz Band in this amazing amalgam of string and horn-laced space age pop eruption titled, Swingin’ with Prince Igor. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of 1959. With cocktails raised, in a room dank with the stale smell of burrowed tobacco smoke, Swingin’ is sure to please. But don’t take my word for it. Here is an excerpt from my wife’s glowing review: “Oh, I like THIS!”
As far as new music goes, Surplus 1980 is very likely my newest, latest discovery. And by discovery, I mean I heard it on the radio (my 19-year-old self is cringing and balling his fists right now). Of course, I heard it on KXLU, well, The International Voice of Reason to be exact (my new muse). What got me was 2011’s Let’s Put Another One There. It’s a circus nightmare of overpopulated self-awareness, and it’s quite possibly one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. To pigeonhole Surplus 1980 (oh, why do we feel the need?), one would have to mix Devo, Blue Meanies, Polysics, some elements of Primus, Captain Beefheart, and Damaged Bug into an adult beverage sippy cup. To consume, plug your nose, remove the lid, and pour contents over your head. Rinse, repeat, enjoy.
In 1984, Rhino Records, with exclusive license from Sun International Corporation, released this beautiful Greatest Hits album as a radiant picture disc. Long gone were the rights to Elvis, but each of the other legendary Sun Records icons are present. Roy Orbison doing Ooby Dooby, Carl Perkins doing Honey Don’t and Blue Suede Shoes, Billy Lee Riley doing Red Hot, Junior Parker with Feelin’ Good and Mystery Train, Jerry Lee Lewis with Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, and of course, Johnny Cash with Folsom Prison Blues. It’s worth owning even if picture discs are prone to skip (and they are).
I’ll most certainly revisit this album for a much more in-depth analysis (and will likely use the same photo), but for now, I’m excited for my newest Space Age Pop acquisition: Irving Fields Trio’s 1959 classic, Bagels and Bongos. Haven’t spun it yet, but this cover is something dreams and offspring are made of. Bagels sold separately.
1998 was a seminal year for collecting records (every collector says the same thing for whatever year they found to be their most prolific). These fragile little discs could still be had for cheap ($8.99 cash), the masses were in the dark that records were still being pressed, and some damn good hip hop littered the dingy, underpicked crates. Take for example this EP by Queens’ The Beatnuts titled, Remix EP: The Spot. Though all tracks were produced by The ‘Nuts, it’s a fresh take on classic ‘Nut tracks, housed in a hilarious and detail-hidden cover. It’s worth checking out at any price.
It. Has. Arrived. Still avail, FYI, and sounding amazing! One of the best hip hop albums I’ve ever spun. It’s machine versus man, man versus woman, woman versus your mother.
It’s hard not to get into the delightful goofiness of Dr. Demento’s 1975 comp, Dr. Demento’s Delights. Though missing the insta-classic Fish Heads (by Barnes & Barnes, 1980), this 12-track soundtrack to extreme lunacy features a few essentials in They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! (Napoleon XIV), Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent (Jef Jaisun), and Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Allan Sherman). It’s pretty solid smirk-music, and perfect for a day like this.
Oh, man. The BoDeans. I distinctly remember hearing them blasting from top 40 radio in the mid 80s, likely from the portable Walkman I’d borrow from my father on bicycle trips across town. Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (featured here) is the band’s debut album, and although not their most successful, is considered by many critics to be their greatest achievement. I fall somewhere in the middle, taking a fancy to 1987’s Outside Looking In, but they’re both solid pieces of 80s pop.
I am just a poor boy, through my story’s seldom… wait… wrong Boxer. I’m excited for this month’s Vinyl Me, Please release (vol. 56) in The National’s 2007 effort, Boxer. I’m not familiar with The National, but if VMP is distributing this album’s 10th anniversary release, it MUST be worth spinning. I will say, as an aside, that the Betty Davis debut rerelease (last month’s selection) was by far one of the best VMP releases yet. Keep it up, Vinyl Me, Please!
So, about 13 (or so) years ago, I made a full time job out of thrift store record hunting. Among my varied excavations were a nifty handful of Smurf records. I don’t recall ever listening to them, nor can I tell you how (loosely) they’re affixed to the classic 80s cartoon, but one thing I CAN tell you, is that I own five (5) Smurfs records. Again, not sure what the hell I’m going to do with them, but there was a time in my life (not too terribly long ago, I’m afraid) when I felt the need to own them.
Moonlight Becomes You by Paul Weston and His Music From Hollywood isn’t just a kitchy cover featuring some no-name model and a hammock. By no means. Moonlight Becomes You is mid-century baby-making music with a kitchy cover featuring some no-name model and a hammock. I Remember You from Somewhere, Almost Like Being in Love, and I Should Care carry this wistful collection of moods through “360” hemispheric sound. It’s a perfect circle of moods for any and every occasion. Check it out.
Minimalist industrial (the best kind), in all its Wax Trax! Records glory (though, it did not need said label’s social nuances to successfully flourish). 1988’s three-track EP, Idiot is an adventurous (and repetitive) introduction into Paul Barker’s debut (Ministry / Blackouts) side project, Lead into Gold. Only releasing one LP (1990’s Age of Reason), Lead into Gold was a short-lived, heavily weighted shadow, worthy of your next vacation from the scowling reality that is 2017 “America.” I’d suggest you listen with caution, but such a warning would fall upon deaf and ignorant ears.